Nevada’s medical marijuana industry and government oversight are “kind of trying to invent the wheel,” a state official told a Carson City Rotary Club audience Tuesday.
Pam Graber, education officer with the state’s medical marijuana program, said the budding industry and the Division of Public and Behavioral Health in state Health and Human Services are coping with gray areas involving the fact Nevada is growing the business but marijuana remains a Schedule 1 drug outlawed by the federal government. She said, for example, banks and attorneys shy away from the business because of the federal position.
Another example, she said, is that Nevada and other states forging a future involving medical marijuana get no help from the Federal Drug Administration, a fact that earlier in her luncheon presentation had her mentioning laboratory testing as a key point in this state’s approach.
“This is a good deal that we have all this laboratory testing,” Graber said, noting state law calls for labs, as well as dispensaries and cultivation or production facilities. She said those labs must test all products before they reach end users in Nevada.
Graber, a 20-year veteran of the health care field, said labels are required that track pertinent information for medical marijuana card users’ needs. She said another “difficult area,” as the state moves from years as a home-grow medical marijuana state to one including an industry with dispensaries, involves doses, servings and what type of product is best for each card holder’s symptoms.
Graber said there currently are 11,406 patient card holders, more than 7,800 of them in Clark County, more than 1,750 in Washoe County and about 1,800 in the balance of the state. She said the state has issued 372 provisional certificates for medical marijuana establishments, 182 for cultivation, 116 for production, 55 for dispensaries and 18 for labs. She said only about 25 medical marijuana establishments have opened as yet.
In Carson City, she said, there are to be two dispensaries, seven grow facilities and four handling production.
Graber said part of the 2013 law authorizing the industry was what she called the non-residential patient program, which allows cardholders from other to buy product while visiting Nevada.
“In fact,” she said, “it’s very unusual.” Dispensaries may sell product to cardholders from the other 22 such states if they produce their cards and valid photo identification. She said because this is a tourist state, thousands come daily to Nevada and “a good portion of them could be patients” happy to know they can obtain their medical marijuana. “The non-resident program: it’s a big deal,” said Graber.
During a question/answer period following her talk, someone asked about recreational marijuana, which is allowed in a few states. She said her sense is medical and recreational marijuana are different.
“You might not have much luck walking into an adult use shop,” she said.