By Jeremy L. Krenek, Attorney, Incline Law Group
The legalization of marijuana has become a hot topic over the past decade as campaigns to legalize have gained serious support. States like Colorado and Washington have legalized marijuana for recreational use. Currently, 22 states, including Nevada and California have legalized marijuana for medical purposes if prescribed by a licensed physician. While Nevada passed its first medical marijuana law in 2000, it just recently passed a law (2013) allowing for medical marijuana dispensaries to open causing great debate.
Opponents of legalization are concerned with increased crime rates, increased substance abuse among both adults and adolescents, and a potential increase of dangerous drivers on the road (DUIs). Even though there are numerous states that have legalized medical use of marijuana, it is still too early to tell whether these concerns will actually come to fruition.
On the other hand, proponents are concerned because, while marijuana may be legal at a state level in some circumstances, it is still a federal crime. Since federal law preempts conflicting state law, those who have a medical marijuana card issued by a state can still be arrested and charged with a federal offense. This example has been on display for the entire nation to witness over the last couple of years in California where the federal government has made it a priority to crack down on an over billion dollar a year pot industry.
While both sides of the debate may have legitimate concerns, Nevada residents should take comfort in the fact that Nevada is familiar with regulating a product that not everyone wants to see legalized. Nevada has a regimented process for approving gambling licenses across the state. Many of the same guidelines will likely be utilized when it comes to marijuana dispensaries. Strict guidelines regulate those who can open a dispensary as well as oversee their management. The application process for opening a dispensary has numerous guidelines and checks that must be followed carefully in order to have an application considered. Counties also have the ability to impose further restrictions and guidelines including regulations as to where dispensaries can be located within each county.
Those with the goal of opening a dispensary have many legal hoops to jump through. Only time will tell the effect legalization of marijuana will have on our nation. Until then, hopefully the rules and regulations that are in place will help circumvent any negative effects the new legislation will have across our nation.