CARSON CITY — While state senators visited a medical marijuana dispensary in Arizona on Friday, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a brief in the Nevada Supreme Court saying state law provides “no practical way” for residents to acquire medical marijuana.
Attorney Katrina Ross filed a friend of the court brief in the case of Nathan Hamilton and Leonard Schwingdorf, who operated a nonprofit dispensary in Las Vegas for authorized medical marijuana patients. The men were arrested by police and charged with multiple counts of sale, trafficking and possession of a controlled substance. “There is no practical way to obtain medical marijuana in the state of Nevada,” Ross wrote. “(The two men) were prosecuted for behavior that is constitutionally protected.”
Just before retiring last year, District Judge Donald Mosley threw out the charges against the men on the grounds that the state’s 2001 medical marijuana law did not provide a realistic way for patients to acquire marijuana, although the voter-approved constitutional amendment stated legislators “shall” provide an appropriate distribution method.
The law requires patients to grow their own marijuana, but possess no more than an ounce of marijuana and a total of seven mature and immature plants.
Mosely’s decision was appealed to the state Supreme Court.
Senate Judiciary Chairman Tick Segerblom, D-Las Vegas, introduced a bill to create state dispensaries and grow farms for patients. He also proposed legal possession of two and a half ounces and 25 marijuana plants.
Ross noted that Washington and Colorado voters last November legalized marijuana for recreational purposes and the 10th Amendment blocks the federal government from prosecuting people who follow Nevada’s medical marijuana laws.
“The federal government cannot direct the state of Nevada to criminalize medical marijuana users, much as the federal government cannot criminalize other controversial practices that the United States Congress has sought to restrict or ban,” she wrote.
Assemblyman Joe Hogan, D-Las Vegas, introduced a bill this week to legalize marijuana in Nevada for all people age 21 and older.
Contact reporter Ed Vogel at firstname.lastname@example.org or 775-687-3901.