Published Thursday, April 11, 2013 | 2 a.m.
Updated Thursday, April 11, 2013 | 9:27 a.m.
Gov. Brian Sandoval said this week that he’s against the decriminalization of marijuana for recreational use, but he’s open to seeing a proposal for dispensaries for medical marijuana.
“I don’t support the decriminalization of marijuana,” the Republican governor said Tuesday after a meeting at the Capitol. “The issue when medical marijuana was approved by the people was the accessibility. Under the current structure, you can only grow your own.”
He said he doesn’t necessarily support the status quo but wants to know more specifics about a proposed amendment to the bill before committing to anything.
“I guess I need to know what the system would be,” he said. “As long as it is prescribed by a physician and if accessibility is an issue, I’m waiting to see what the form is.”
The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Tick Segerblom, D-Las Vegas, has said he’s confident his bill will at least get to a full vote in the Senate.
Indeed, the bill passed unanimously from the Senate Judiciary Committee today, with four Democrats and three Republicans voting in favor of it.
The senator has argued it’s high time that Nevadans have a reasonable way to exercise their state constitutional right to use medical marijuana. He has said that dispensaries would allow for easy distribution to those who have a medical reason to use marijuana; under the current system, patients must basically grow their own and cannot legally obtain seeds.
Segerblom has gone to great lengths, including taking legislators to an Arizona medical marijuana dispensary, to gain bipartisan support for the proposal.
To bolster his argument, Segerblom also has a new study from California Capitol Solutions that estimates that the bill would increase the number of medical marijuana cardholders in Nevada by tens of thousands because the law would make it less onerous to obtain medical marijuana.
The study also estimates that the dispensary system could bring in $33 million to the state.
Meanwhile, the governor’s comments cast doubt on the viability of the full legalization proposal from Assemblyman Joe Hogan, D-Las Vegas.
Both Hogan’s bill and Segerblom’s already face two high hurdles to reach the governor’s desk. They need a two-thirds majority vote to pass the Senate and Assembly.
Hogan’s bill may not make it out of the Assembly Judiciary committee.
“A lot of people have some hang-ups,” he said.
He said he’s trying to tell his colleagues that legalizing, regulating and taxing the recreational use of marijuana could bring the state between $400 million and $600 million at a time when legislators are looking for more money to pay for education programs.
He said that although Nevada voters have rejected legalizing marijuana in the past, that should not get in the way of today’s public opinion.
A recent national survey showed that the majority of Americans now support the legalization of marijuana.