How medical marijuana gets from seed to sale

In coming months, Clark County is expected to issue the first medical marijuana business licenses on four different levels: cultivation warehouses, production facilities, lab testing and dispensaries.

That covers each stage of getting pot from seed to sale.

At a hearing scheduled for June 5, which could spill over into the next day, county commissioners are expected to decide which of 109 companies that applied for licenses will be sent to the state Public and Behavioral Health Division for review.

State and county officials want to closely oversee newly legalized sales, and have set strict guidelines for companies that want to enter the pot business.

A medical marijuana business also could lose its license for:

■ Delivering or dispensing the drug to someone “other than a medical marijuana establishment agent, another medical marijuana establishment, a patient who holds a valid registry identification card or the designated primary caregiver of such a patient

■ Acquiring pot from someone other than a person with a medical marijuana card, a medical marijuana establishment agent or another licensed facility.

So how will marijuana be grown in the desert? What happens inside a production facility? How is the drug tested? And what sort of products will be for sale in the dispensary?

Here’s a breakdown of each step in the process:

■ Lawmakers have decided that growing medical marijuana must be done in a secured warehouse. Under state law, a cultivation warehouse is defined as a business that “acquires, possesses, cultivates, delivers, transfers, transports, supplies or sells marijuana and related supplies” to dispensaries and production facilities.

To better track the drug, Clark County officials have decided dispensaries must obtain medical marijuana from in-state cultivation facilities.

Those who have applied to grow marijuana in Clark County said they would operate in warehouses as large as 50,000 square feet. What’s known as “controlled environment agricultural” could be easier in the desert, where humidity is usually not an issue, industry experts said

■ A production facility sells “edible marijuana products or marijuana-infused products to medical marijuana dispensaries,” under the law. That sounds simple, until you delve into the myriad pot products available on the market in other states where marijuana sales — medical or recreational — are legal. Anything from brownies to candies and oils and waxes can be infused with tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.

At a production plant, extraction of the leaves and trimming of the plant may also produce waxes and oils for vaporizers.

Taylor West, the National Cannabis Industry Association’s deputy director, said there’s been a surge in alternative methods of ingesting marijuana across the country.

“They allow people to have a more custom dosing,” she said, “because some people don’t like smoking.

■ A testing lab is required to test all marijuana, edibles and marijuana-infused products sold in Nevada. Only one business, G3 Labs LLC, has applied for a testing license in Clark County.

Any licensed lab must examine the concentration of THC and cannabidiol, whether the material is organic or nonorganic, the presence and identification of molds and fungus and the presence and concentration of fertilizers and nutrients.

The county found that G3 Labs’ initial site was too close to a school, and extended the deadline to apply for testing labs. G3 Labs Chief Financial Officer William Whalen said he found another 3,500-square-foot facility that meets qualifications.

■ The dispensary, where patients pick up the buds or pot-infused products, can also sell marijuana-related supplies and educational materials, under the law. That would include smoking devices and “vape pens,” along with the candies, brownies, oils and waxes from the production facility.

About 4,000 Nevadans hold medical marijuana cards, but that number could jump once dispensaries open.

The law also lets patients from other states purchase pot in the Silver State, which could mean “huge business,” said state Sen. Tick Segerblom, D-Las Vegas, who authored the 2013 medical marijuana bill.

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