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Senate bill paves way for medical marijuana shops

Published on NewsOK Modified: March 29, 2013 at 4:30 pm •  Published: March 29, 2013

CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) — A glimmer of hope grew a bit brighter Friday for Nevadans who have been waiting 13 years since the legalization of medicinal marijuana to finally have access to the drug.

Sen. Tick Segerblom, D-Las Vegas, presented SB374 to the Senate Judiciary Committee a week after he took members on a field trip to Arizona to hash out the complexities of the bill.

"I came away from Arizona realizing the faster we can get this moving, the better," Segerblom said. He added that he hopes for the first dispensary in Nevada to open within a year.

The bill sets the framework for establishing and regulating medical marijuana dispensaries in Nevada, and it allows for those dispensaries to operate store fronts for registered medical marijuana patients.

Despite the state legalization of medical marijuana in 2000 and several attempts at laws like this bill, no legislature has passed policy allowing for the distribution of the drug. The reason for that is likely twofold: political pressure and concern of federal intervention because marijuana is still a controlled substance federally, Segerblom said.

"I'm actually very surprised at the amount of support this bill is getting," Segerblom said. "It doesn't have the political bugaboo attached to it like it has in past years."

The majority of the committee Friday echoed the same sentiment that the time has come for medical marijuana dispensaries.

"This is a really important thing. You need to implement the law and so far that has not taken place," said Sen. Scott Hammond, R-Las Vegas.

Committee members returned from Arizona with a number of proposed amendments, including changing the dispensaries from nonprofit to for-profit and increasing fees associated with starting and operating a dispensary.

"This is a business that will make a lot of money, so from my perspective it has got to be serious businesses that are serious about the process," said Sen. Mark Hutchinson, R-Las Vegas. He added that dispensaries in Arizona make $100,000 to $700,000 per month, so the increased fees would not be a hindrance to dispensaries opening for business.

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