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November 28, 2021

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State to medical marijuana patients: Don’t freak out over delays to get your cards

First Marijuana Dispensary Opens

Christopher DeVargas

David Cobbett is one of the first customers to purchase marijuana on opening day of Euphoria Wellness, the first marijuana dispensary in Las Vegas, Monday, Aug. 24, 2015.

Updated Monday, Sept. 28, 2015 | 10:15 a.m.

Medical marijuana card holders by medical condition

Severe pain: 9,048

Muscle spasms: 2,405

Severe nausea: 1,209

Cancer: 485

Seizures: 333

Cachexia: 310

Glaucoma: 193

HIV/AIDS: 48

Medical marijuana card holders by age

Under 18: 20

18-20: 129

21-24: 414

25-34: 1,810

35-44: 1,858

45-54: 2,091

55-64: 2,406

65+: 1,391

Where medical marijuana card holders live

Clark County: 7,081

Washoe County: 1,406

Rest of state: 1,682

Questions?

People encountering problems can visit the program website at dpbh.nv.gov or call 775-687-7594

If you recently applied to obtain a medical marijuana card, bad news: It could take months for the state to process your application.

The good news is, by Oct. 1, state officials should be back to rubber stamping applications in 30 days.

“It’s going to get nothing but better as we regroup and plan for the future,” said Pam Graber, of the Nevada Medical Marijuana Program. “We found ourselves with (an unusually) high volume of applications, but we are catching up.”

Starting in late spring, the Nevada Medical Marijuana Program received a rush of applications, which Graber attributed to the opening of a brick-and-mortar dispensary in Northern Nevada. The Las Vegas area’s only dispensary, Euphoria Wellness, opened Aug. 26. Two dispensaries operate in Washoe County.

The convenience of dispensaries, which allow patients to buy marijuana instead of growing it themselves, spurred demand for the cards. “Plus, it’s really good quality product, grown and laboratory-tested for its medicinal qualities,” Graber said.

The state medical marijuana registry grew 25 percent over the past eight months, from 8,055 cardholders at the end of 2014 to 10,119 by Aug. 31. Staff couldn’t keep up with the flood of applications, so the approval process was taking twice as long as the normal 30-day turnaround, Graber said.

To ease the burden, the office hired temporary workers. But the backlog has frustrated patients and their caregivers.

Cindy Koch, 57, applied for a medical marijuana card July 24 to help with myriad health issues, including carpal tunnel syndrome, a bulging disc in her neck and fibromyalgia. After six weeks, she contacted program officials for an update, but her call went to an automated-messaging system that indicated the office was overwhelmed by applications. Koch didn’t know how long she would have to wait for her application to be approved.

“No one’s giving you all the information,” she said. “You’re just getting bits and pieces.”

A week later, a letter of approval arrived, giving Koch the green light to head to a Department of Motor Vehicles office to pick up her medical marijuana card.

As of Aug. 31, the program had 560 pending applications.

“Patience is huge,” Graber said.

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