Nevada’s new medical marijuana legislation has run into an economic roadblock. Proposed regulations to put SB 374 into effect would require people seeking cultivation and dispensary licenses to have at least $250,000 available to them, as well as a $5,000 non-refundable deposit to file an application. Growers and dispensaries would also be required to secure zoning approval.
At a Division of Public and Behavioral Health hearing earlier this month, speakers testified that the requirements would discriminate against the poor and minorities, and could raise the price of medical marijuana, making it too expensive for patients. Health services management worker David Udy said that the regulations could drive the cost of medical pot as high as $400 an ounce. Proponents of the law also requested a discount program for veterans and senior citizens.
Nevada introduced a basic medical marijuana program in 2001, allowing patients to grow their own medicine up to a total of seven plants. The new legislation would allow up to 66 dispensaries to provide for the state’s 4,000 card-holding patients unable to grow their own. The new bill, signed into law in June by Gov. Brian Sandoval, allows for licensed patients to grow up to 12 plants; however, Sen. Tick Segerblom, who sponsored the legislation, says that the grow-your-own option may be removed. He told reporters, “Cost is a concern. We hope some dispensaries will make exceptions for poor people, having reduced prices.”
Division deputy administrator Marla McDade-Williams heard testimony from dozens of speakers, but said there is little she can do about the requirements due to limitations in the bill. She presided over three days of hearings on tentative rules to put the law into effect by April 1, 2014. Additional public hearings will take place before the regulations are approved.