Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Finally Come to Nevada

Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Finally Come to Nevada

Customers line up outside Silver State Relief dispensary in Sparks, Nev., to purchase legal medical marijuana for the first time in the state. (Photo: AP/Scott Sonner)

Fifteen years after voters in Nevada approved medical marijuana in the state, the first dispensary opened up near Reno on July 31st.

It wasn’t until 2013 that the medical marijuana law in Nevada had any language in it that would allow for dispensaries to established. Up until now qualified patients could only grow up to 12 plants at home, or hope they knew someone who could grow 12 plants.

More dispensaries are expected to open up around the state in the coming months. Many of the state’s 66 dispensary licenses have already been awarded; it’s just a matter the licensees getting their locations and products together to begin to serve patients.

The new rules and regulations governing medical marijuana sales in Nevada are based on Colorado’s MMJ system, with tracking and pesticide testing that is believed to be even more thorough than the testing in CO.

Earlier this year a recreational legalization measure backed by the Marijuana Policy Project officially made the ballot for 2016. The measure would allow those 21 years of age and older to possess up to an once of cannabis and grow up to 6 plants at home. The measure would also allow for the commercial growing and retail aspects of the recreational industry, taxing them of course.

Nevada holds a good lesson for those who hope to create medical marijuana laws and protections in their own state. Not everyone can grow, especially people who are sick. There needs to be a dispensary system if medical marijuana is going to be viable.

Having said that, medical marijuana will likely become a moot point in the near future. As states pass more restrictive medical cannabis laws, the recreational laws that are passed will be much more broad and cover adults no matter what reason they have for using cannabis. There will still be a need for medical marijuana protections for those who are not adults, and for those who need to possess large amounts to make things like edibles and concentrates. But the story over the next decade will be recreational legalization and the freedom it brings to tens of millions of cannabis users around the country.