Authorities seek better control of parolees using medical pot

CARSON CITY — State parole and probation officers want better control of parolees who have medical marijuana cards.

One proposal would require parolees to get permission from the Board of Parole Commissioners before being granted a medical marijuana card, according to The Nevada Appeal of Carson City.

Parole cannot be revoked for using medical marijuana.

Parole and Probation Lt. Tom Ely last week told the board that he does not want to limit access for parolees with HIV, cancer or diseases such as glaucoma.

But many parolees use medical marijuana for minor problems, such as flat feet or anxiety, Ely said.

“Most of them are only using (medical marijuana) to get around the rules,” he said.

“We’re just looking to deny those who are looking for an excuse to continue to get high.”

If their drug use cannot be prevented, Ely said, it makes recidivism more likely, especially for sex offenders.

“If they’re abusing drugs, there’s no way to manage their rehabilitation,” Ely said.

Chairman Connie Bisbee said state law probably prevents the board or parole officers from requiring permission.

The board might ask the Legislature, which starts meeting Feb. 7, to give parole officers power to regulate medical marijuana use. But until then, not much can be done.

“While you could make a condition that you can’t smoke marijuana, you can’t enforce it,” Bisbee said.

Commissioner Tony Coda said the board does not have the medical expertise to decide who should qualify.

About 3,000 people in Nevada have medical marijuana cards, according to the state Health Division.

Although the law was passed about a decade ago, applications have sky­rocketed, with more than 1,000 filed in the past six months.

During the upcoming legislative session, Democratic Assemblyman Paul Aizley of Las Vegas plans to introduce a bill to allow people to smoke marijuana without a state-issued card.

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