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Medical marijuana

Nevada voters approved medical marijuana at the polls, placing it in the state constitution more than 12 years ago and instructing: “The Legislature shall provide by law for … appropriate methods for supply of the plant to patients authorized to use it.”

Today sick Nevadans can pay a $150 fee and acquire a physician’s recommendation for the medicinal plant. Then what? They can grow their own plants, with an absurd limitation on the number of seedlings grown at any time. But police can be relied upon to bust well-meaning souls who have tried to help patients acquire this medicinal plant, threatening biblical prison terms.

A year ago, District Judge Donald Mosley, in his last day on the bench, condemned the absurd state of Nevada’s medical marijuana amendment, calling it “ridiculous.” He dismissed a drug trafficking case against Nathan Hamilton and Leonard Schwingdorf, who supplied the herb to patients unable to grow it themselves. Prosecutors argued the marijuana dispensary staff suggested a specific cash donation for the marijuana, which under state law qualifies as “consideration” and is illegal. They also charged the dispensaries were growing more than seven plants, the allowed maximum.

“It is absurd to suppose that from an unspecified source ‘free’ marijuana will be provided to those who are lawfully empowered to receive it,” the judge wrote.

Now comes state Sen. Tick Segerblom, D-Las Vegas, with a bill to authorize 10 medical marijuana dispensaries in Clark County, to be expanded as needed. A $20,000 fee — and a $5,000 annual renewal charge — would be required to operate a for-profit marijuana dispensary, treating such operations in a manner similar to the current regulation of pharmacies.

In a hearing on Senate Bill 374 last week, Metropolitan Police Department lobbyist Chuck Calloway asked the Legislature to increase sentences for those who grow marijuana outside the new regulated regime. “We have a huge problem with indoor and outdoor grow houses,” Mr. Calloway stated.

What kind of problem? Toxic pot? Extortionate prices? The problem Metro has with marijuana growers is that they don’t want any marijuana growers. Their conduct in busting even the most well-intentioned dispensaries — enabling a prosecution racket that demands heavier sentences than those meted out to armed robbers — is further evidence of an arrogant refusal to comply with the obvious direction of the very electorate they claim to serve and protect.

Illicit activities persist precisely because law enforcement agencies have been ignoring the law in order to wage their own moral jihad against a plant that Americans are now unmistakably shepherding toward commercial normalcy.

Our prisons don’t yet have enough nonviolent, victimless offenders? Draconian cries for ever-harsher sentences for docile pot smokers who nurse along an eighth seedling have lost all credibility, are embarrassing and should be ignored.

SB374 would better comply with the decade-old instructions of Nevada voters than anything anyone else has presented. Give it a try and make necessary adjustments later.

Though we would suggest one addition to the bill: amnesty and a recommendation for a full pardon for any nonviolent offender who’s been caught up in the legal system for merely trying to do what voters mandated a dozen years ago — providing marijuana to sick people.

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