Panel examines questions raised by medical marijuana

With Nevada just months from its first legal sales of medical marijuana, there are still many questions about how the system will work, elected officials and lawyers said during a public forum Thursday night.

The Nevada Legislature passed a law last year that allows 40 dispensaries in Clark County, including 12 in Las Vegas and 18 in unincorporated areas.

But it’s not clear how many will open in the coming months, with the state having rejected some proposed dispensaries approved by local officials.

And panelists said state lawmakers, who go into session in February, need to decide how to judge impaired driving and the legal status of people who have spent years growing their own marijuana, along with other issues.

“There’s still work to be done,” Clark County Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani said during the forum at the United Way of Southern Nevada. “But you know what? We got this far finally.”

Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson said he’s worried about impaired driving. But he said the law is “behind the times” and science has produced no quick, reliable way to determine whether a driver is impaired.

The forum, sponsored by The Jewish Federation of Las Vegas and attended by several dozen people, was moderated by Review-Journal Editor Mike Hengel.

Two panelists, attorneys Ed Bernstein and Carlos Blumberg, said their clients have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars preparing to grow or sell marijuana under the new regime. Blumberg called the regulatory process “grueling.”

The political debates will only intensify. Even while medical marijuana will be brand new, voters probably will decide in 2016 whether to legalize recreational marijuana use.

And Bernstein said his clients and others who’ve spent money preparing to comply with medical marijuana rules deserve “first crack” at the money to be made from recreational pot.

Contact Eric Hartley at or 702-550-9229. Find him on Twitter: @ethartley.

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