While the federal government continues its failed prohibition policy, several states have led the way in changing the approach toward narcotics to a more sensible one that removes criminal penalties for, at least, marijuana. On November 6, voters in Washington state and Colorado took particularly bold steps, making it legal to possess a certain amount of marijuana for personal use.

Those two states are the first to go so far. However, 16 other states and the District of Columbia have enacted some form of medical marijuana law, legalizing cannabis for medicinal purposes. Nevada is among those states. These states face a roadblock, though, in that federal law still makes marijuana totally illegal and recognizes no valid medical use, despite studies that clearly show the contrary. The discrepancy has caused different problems in the 18 states and DC. In some states, the state government has enforced state law but has faced interference from federal officials. In Nevada, however, local police have also been an issue, as well. Advocates for sensible marijuana policy hope the coming legislative session brings positive change.

In 2000, Nevada voters passed Ballot Question 9 with 65 percent of the vote. The ballot question allows Nevada residents, with a doctor’s written statement that marijuana would alleviate certain approved conditions, may obtain a card that would permit that resident to possess one ounce of usable cannabis, three mature plants and four immature plants. However, the law did not make provisions for those who cannot grow marijuana for how to obtain it. Nevada police have been steadily raiding more and more growhouses. In 2011, they raided 146, up from 138 in 2010 and 108 in 2009.

However, some members of the Nevada Legislature have recognized the inadequacies in the current law. Assembly Tick Segerblom, of Las Vegas, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal of his intent to seek legislation in the upcoming session, which starts February 4, that allows for dispensaries, similar to what Colorado voters passed November 6. In Colorado, licensed dispensaries may grow marijuana under tightly controlled conditions. Similarly, Segerblom wants to license facilities to grow marijuana.

Voters overwhelmingly decreed in 2000 that they want a state where patients suffering from painful ailments to have access to the alleviating possibilities of cannabis. In failing to create the legal structure to allow for medical marijuana, lawmakers have failed to honor the will of voters. That must change in the next legislature session.sed dispensaries may grow marijuana under tightly controlled conditions. Similarly, Segerblom wants to license facilities to grow marijuana.

In the meantime, anyone arrested for medical marijuana charges would be best advised to have a Las Vegas marijuana lawyer on their side until the laws can be straightened out.

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