Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2016 | 2 a.m.
Would-be medical marijuana users in Nevada will no longer have to endure a trip to the DMV when seeking a patient card.
The Nevada Dispensary Association announced Monday that the card application process is now offered online, reducing both the need for a visit to the DMV and a drive to a new Las Vegas-based Division of Public and Behavioral Health office. Applicants will no longer have to mail their applications to the state, either, as all forms can be submitted online at nvdispense.com.
The move to an online system comes after nearly a year of negotiations between the dispensary association and state officials, said Riana Durrett, the association’s executive director.
“There are still improvements that can be made, but this has been a huge effort on the part of the association and the state working tirelessly to make this happen,” Durrett said Tuesday. “Everything is online now."
The improvements were designed to help patients with mobility issues as well as those in remote areas, Durrett said. Now, instead of driving to a government office or waiting to mail forms, patients can handle all but the doctor’s recommendation portion of their applications without leaving their desks.
Before June, Nevada patients waited as long as three months for their medical marijuana cards. With the previous system, applicants were required to send a $25 pre-application fee to the Division of Public and Behavioral Health office in Carson City, then wait up to two weeks for a paper application to be sent back if the prospective patient was approved. From there, patients had to visit a doctor and receive that doctor's recommendation for their cards. A filled application and doctor's note sent back to Carson City with a $75 fee took from 30 to 60 days to be approved after the state ran a background check and sent the approved application back to the patient. Finally, the patient would turn in his approved paperwork at the DMV in exchange for the medical marijuana card, which was mailed from the DMV within 14 days.
The department opened a Las Vegas-based card processing office at 2300 W Sahara Ave. in mid-June to provide easier access for many Southern Nevada applicants. With the new office, medical marijuana cardholders could submit their applications and doctor's notes and have their paperwork approved and submitted on the same day.
The Las Vegas office will continue serving prospective patients through Oct. 31, Durrett said, as the industry shifts online.
With the new online system, the only step requiring a patient to physically his computer is for a visit to the doctor. The doctor’s approval can be scanned by the patient, uploaded and sent online with a patient’s application, Durrett said. Turnaround time for approval from the state is about two days, and patients are given a temporary approval letter to print and use at the dispensaries until their cards arrive at their home.
Nevada State Sen. Tick Segerblom, one of the state’s leading proponents of bringing medical marijuana dispensaries to Nevada, said he was pleased with the new system, which took nine months to implement.
“Everything takes time, and the state with it’s limited resources has really done a good job of putting this together in a reasonable time,” Segerblom said.
Nevada had 22,170 medical marijuana cardholders through the end of August, compared with about 13,500 cardholders through December 2015.