Radical Rant: Legalizing Las Vegas Cost Patients Their Home Grow

A quick update—the legislature has pushed that sunset date for patients who’ve been growing since before July 1, 2013, out to March 2018. So Nevada patients who were legal to grow yesterday can still grow today. The legislature also removed the requirement to designate just one dispensary when an out-of-state patient signs an affidavit to shop in Nevada. Sorry for my errors in missing those changes to the law.

This week I’m in Las Vegas doing some work that requires me to do something I swore I’d never do—get a medical marijuana recommendation.

Nevada has had legal medical marijuana since 2000 when 65 percent of voters approved the law. Medical marijuana had been under the radar for the most part in Nevada until 2013, when the state passed its dispensary law.

That law authorized the creation of dispensaries, one of which is near the famous Las Vegas Strip. That’s where my work comes in; I’ll be broadcasting from that dispensary soon, and that’s why I need the medical marijuana recommendation.

Unfortunately, that 2013 dispensary law came at a huge price—the right for almost all medical marijuana patients to cultivate their own cannabis. Anybody who was growing their own plants as of July 1, 2013, can continue doing so until March 31, 2016. If you weren’t growing as of last July, you have no right to home grow, and if you were growing as of last July, your right to home grow ends Thursday.

There is still a very tiny window of legality for a few home growers.

According to the law, “self-cultivation, self-growing and self-production is prohibited unless the person engaging in such activity qualifies for one of the compassionate exceptions from the prohibition, including illness that precludes travel to a medical marijuana dispensary, and the lack of a medical marijuana dispensary within 25 miles of the person’s residence.”

This is the infamous “25-mile halo rule” that was first unleashed in Arizona’s 2010 medical marijuana law, where living in a city pretty much precludes you from cultivating cannabis. Thanks to this rule in Arizona, 97.2 percent of all patients live somewhere with no home grow rights, and there’s no reason to think that Nevada won’t also be banning home grow for more than 90 percent of patients.

Qualifying conditions for a medical marijuana card under Nevada law include AIDS; cancer; glaucoma; and any medical condition or treatment to a medical condition that produces cachexia, persistent muscle spasms or seizures, severe nausea or pain, and PTSD. There’s no way I qualify for a medical marijuana recommendation under Nevada law.

However, the same law that established Nevada dispensaries also established reciprocity for medical marijuana recommendations from other states. Simply put, your out-of-state medical marijuana card is good in Nevada, but only at one dispensary that you designate.

So while I’m never going to qualify for a medical marijuana card under Nevada’s law, I’m more than able to qualify under California’s lax standards. Just a few minutes using a laptop with a webcam, and I’ve got my medical marijuana card making its way to me by U.S. Mail. With my card in hand, I’m ready and legal to visit the dispensary on the Vegas Strip… like any one of the estimated 2 million medical marijuana cardholders in America.

Soon, this may be an unnecessary hassle.

Nevada already has a marijuana legalization initiative on the ballot for 2016. Unfortunately, that legalization promises up front to allow for home grow rights, but tucked into its penalties section is the same 25-mile halo rule currently being applied to medical marijuana. If Nevada legalization passes, you won’t be able to grow your own if you live within 25 miles of a pot shop.

(Image Courtesy of Run The Trap)

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