Las Vegas Sun

July 30, 2014

Currently: 101° — Complete forecast | Log in | Create an account

Politics:

Nevada Sen. Tick Segerblom on marijuana dispensary tour: ‘I’ve never seen bud that good’

Image

Andrew Doughman

Nevada Assemblywoman Michele Fiore inspects the product and learns about the different uses for and varieties of marijuana during a trip to a dispensary in Arizona on Friday, March 22, 2013.

Updated Friday, March 22, 2013 | 2:55 p.m.

Pot tour updates:

GLENDALE, Ariz. — What could be more prophetic for a group of Nevada lawmakers headed to Arizona to tour a marijuana dispensary than running into Public Enemy hype man Flavor Flav at the airport?

Before departing on their fact-finding mission, Assemblywoman Michele Fiore, R-Las Vegas, tweeted a picture of fellow lawmaker Sen. Tick Segerblom, D-Las Vegas, with the rapper. “Headed to AZ to check out Medical Marijuana. Tick picked up Flavor Flav,” she wrote.

The picture shows Segerblom in a shirt and tie with a jacket draped over his arm next to Flav, dressed in all black with his signature giant clock dangling from around his neck.

Five state senators and one member of the Assembly flew to Phoenix to tour a medical marijuana dispensary and a grow house before meeting with Arizona legislators to talk about the state’s new system for getting the drug to patients.

Segerblom, a lawyer and Democrat from Las Vegas who has a poster of “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” in his Carson City office, organized the fact-finding mission.

He hopes Nevada lawmakers can create dispensaries here and fix a quirk in Nevada law whereby people are constitutionally allowed to have medical marijuana but cannot legally purchase it in the state.

“We’re going to hear lots of reasons why we can’t do it (or) we shouldn’t do it, but to me, if Arizona, which is the most conservative state in the country, can do it, then Nevada can do it,” Segerblom said. “It’s not a junket. It’s not taxpayer money, but it is a legitimate working trip to see it in person.”

Traveling with Segerblom were senators Mark Hutchison, R-Las Vegas; Scott Hammond, R-Las Vegas; David Parks, D-Las Vegas; Ruben Kihuen, D-Las Vegas; and Fiore. The lawmakers are paying their own way; Segerblom’s campaign is paying for the bus.

During their visit, the lawmakers toured a dispensary and future grow house and got a chance to inspect the marijuana and marijuana edibles for sale, including one $370-an-ounce variety and marijuana brownies.

“I’ve never seen bud that good,” Segerblom said as legislators inspected the marijuana on display. Later, asked about his knowledge of marijuana, Segerblom said, “Not too much recently.”

Other lawmakers on the trip also said they did not have any first-hand experience with marijuana.

“I’ve never tried it,” said Hammond, who noted that the closest he’s been to marijuana was a Grateful Dead concert.

Kihuen said he was surrounded by marijuana in high school but never tried it. “If my mom found out, I would be dead,” he said.

“I want to learn more about these medical marijuana dispensaries,” Kihuen said before the trip. “If it’s a bill that we’re going to consider here in the Legislature, in order for us to make an informed decision, we have to go out there to other states and see how they’re doing it.”

In Arizona, the hope is that the no-nonsense Maricopa County law enforcement and strait-laced dispensary operators can prove to Nevada legislators that medical marijuana dispensaries are safe and controlled.

A court challenge blaming the Nevada Legislature for a poorly written medical marijuana law adds gravity to the trip. A conservative judge called the current laws “ridiculous” in a case that’s before the Nevada Supreme Court.

The state constitution makes it clear that the Legislature “shall” provide for use of medical marijuana, but Nevada law makes it difficult for patients to actually obtain the drug after they’ve paid application fees and received a card from the state’s health department, said Steve Yeager with the Clark County Public Defender’s Office.

“They are placed into a Catch-22 type situation because of the way the law is written,” he said. “That is, they have legal, state-recognized access to medical marijuana but no practical way to obtain it.”

Segerblom’s bill, Senate Bill 374, would allow for the establishment and regulation of nonprofit medical marijuana dispensaries for about 3,600 Nevadans with active medical marijuana cards.

Now, patients or their caregivers basically have to grow their own plants, which Yeager equates to a doctor ordering patients in pain to go home and manufacture their own pills without the convenience of a pharmacy.

With that problem in mind, legislators have been researching marijuana in preparation for the Arizona trip.

Legislators at a February legislative hearing considered the politics of marijuana, digressing into a conversation about the film “Reefer Madness” and the scare tactics used in the early 20th century to argue for criminalizing pot. They also discussed more recent trends: 20 states have legalized medical marijuana, 12 have provided for dispensaries and two have legalized the recreational use of marijuana.

Democrats such as Segerblom might not be the only lawmakers who end up endorsing medical marijuana dispensaries.

Enter Hutchison, who said he has never smoked marijuana and knows little about it.

Framing it as a states’ rights, constitutional issue, Hutchison said he would like to work with Segerblom to find a way to help sick Nevadans exercise the constitutional right to medical marijuana that voters approved by wide margins in 1998 and 2000.

“I will definitely support a procedure for safely, securely and legally dispensing medical marijuana because the constitution requires us to do it,” he said.

Segerblom’s bill needs bipartisan support because two-thirds of the Legislature needs to approve it, meaning Democrats alone cannot pass the bill.

Segerblom said he hopes his bill will be more palatable to legislators than Assembly Bill 402, which would legalize the recreational use of marijuana.

“I think we need to demonstrate that we can produce and control medical marijuana before we attempt to legalize and tax it,” he said in an email.

Still, the politics and stigma surrounding marijuana could make passage of the bill difficult.

Unlike the seriousness that surrounds the use and abuse of other illegal and legal drugs, the matter of the cannabis plant provokes joking and stifled giggles at the Legislature.

Late Monday, Segerblom’s medical marijuana bill still needed to be referred to a committee. During a break, senators joked that a “joint committee” ought to consider the bill. Another senator said the natural resources committee should consider this “natural resource.” A third noticed the disagreement and said the “high court” should decide the matter.

The bill ultimately ended up in Segerblom’s judiciary committee, where it is likely to pass and end up before the Senate for a possible vote.

“Realistically, the problem is that when you use the word marijuana, a lot of politicians get very skittish and think that somehow or other they’re endorsing smoking marijuana, which they’re not,” Segerblom said. “The key to this whole thing in my opinion is that there is no marijuana going to people other than people who have cards.”

Join the Discussion:

Check this out for a full explanation of our conversion to the LiveFyre commenting system and instructions on how to sign up for an account.

Full comments policy

Previous Discussion: 4 comments so far…

Comments are moderated by Las Vegas Sun editors. Our goal is not to limit the discussion, but rather to elevate it. Comments should be relevant and contain no abusive language. Comments that are off-topic, vulgar, profane or include personal attacks will be removed. Full comments policy. Additionally, we now display comments from trusted commenters by default. Those wishing to become a trusted commenter need to verify their identity or sign in with Facebook Connect to tie their Facebook account to their Las Vegas Sun account. For more on this change, read our story about how it works and why we did it.

Only trusted comments are displayed on this page. Untrusted comments have expired from this story.

  1. Hotels and midnight coaches, be sure to hide the"

  2. Hotels and midnight coaches, be sure to hide the"

  3. New laws are bound to help our ally, Afghanistan, in the war against terror:

    from the New York Daily News:

    "Afghanistan now world's top marijuana supplier"

    "Long the world's largest producer of opium, the raw ingredient of heroin, Afghanistan has now become the top supplier of cannabis, with large-scale cultivation in half of its provinces, the United Nations said on Wednesday.

    Between 10,000 and 24,000 hectares of cannabis are grown every year in Afghanistan, with major cultivation in 17 out 34 provinces, the U.N. drug agency (UNODC) said in its first report on cannabis production in Afghanistan."

    Make it legal and the enormous profits disappear. This is the easiest way to fight crime and terrorism in one motion - legalize and tax it.

  4. Commenter Mred hit the nail on the head with, "People have a right to have a gun, people have a right to medical care. It was not till about 1911 when drugs we made illegal and the country did alright, some opium laws out west. It is time to stop outlawing and start saving money on the criminal revolving door industry. If you do not like pot, alcohol, sex, blah blah, go live with your friends in Saudi Arabia or with the Taliban."

    Nevada fell short in providing the necessary infrastructure to support the medical marijuana law, and that is nothing new of the types of behaviors we have from Nevada Lawmakers.

    Hopefully, this 2013 Nevada State 77th Legislative Session will be productive, and provide for those dispensaries, and go steps futher by decriminalizing, regulating, and TAXING marijuana.

    Blessings and Peace,
    Star