Las Vegas Sun

October 20, 2014

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Nevada anticipates surge in people seeking medical marijuana

Image

Steve Marcus

Medical marijuana is shown in a home in this 2010 file photo.

CARSON CITY — Nevada’s administrator of public health today approved regulations governing the distribution of medical marijuana, while another official anticipated a surge in those seeking cards to legally buy the drug.

After a public hearing before the state Board of Health, Richard Whitley, administrator of the state Division of Public and Behavioral Health, stamped his approval on the regulations.

The rules now go to the Legislative Commission on March 28 for its approval.

The regulations outline rules and procedures for cultivation, processing, testing and distribution of medicinal marijuana in Nevada.

A law establishing medical marijuana dispensaries goes into effect April 1. An estimated 6,000 Nevadans have prescriptions for marijuana, but state health officials expect that number to surge.

Chad Westom, who will oversee the medical marijuana program for the Division of Public and Behavioral Health, said the “projection is that card holders will increase dramatically.”

Nevada voters approved medical marijuana in 2000, but patients have had no legal way to acquire the drug other than to grow it.

A bill approved by the 2013 Legislature and signed by Gov. Brian Sandoval set up a taxing and distribution system to allow patients to buy it.

The law authorizes 40 clinics in Clark County; ten in Washoe County; two in Carson City and one each in rural Nevada counties. Pershing County has voted not to allow any dispensaries.

Las Vegas Sun reporter Cy Ryan and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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