Pubdate: Tue,  4 Dec 2001
Source: Nevada Appeal (NV)
Copyright: 2001 Nevada Appeal
Author: Geoff Dornan 
Bookmark: (Question 9 (NV))
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal)


There are now 57 people licensed to use medical marijuana in Nevada.

In addition, Cecile Crofoot of the Agriculture Department says another nine
have been licensed as caregivers.

The program was approved by the 2001 Legislature and started Oct. 1. The
first six registration cards were approved within two weeks.

Crofoot said the number of applications has tapered off since the initial
flood of requests for information but that she still ships out about five
packets a day.

"I still get a steady stream," she said, adding that the program seems to be
working smoothly.

Altogether, her office has mailed out 687 packets to individuals, but she
says only about 10 percent of them have returned applications. She said she
thinks many of them drop the idea when they find out the program is
controlled to prevent drug abusers from getting a card.

"Most of the druggies give up," she said.

The Nevada law allows individuals suffering from specific chronic and
debilitating diseases such as AIDS, cancer and glaucoma to register with the
state Agriculture Department.

They get a registry card that exempts them from state prosecution for
possession and use of small amounts of marijuana. Their names are
confidential as are the names of the physicians who signed letters
qualifying them for the registry cards.

The state law doesn't guarantee them any relief from federal prosecution,
but Crofoot says federal drug agents have shown little interest in Nevada's
program thus far.

"I've heard not a thing," she said. She said that's probably because
Nevada's program is carefully designed to avoid the situations which have
gotten California's program into trouble with federal prosecutors.

Nevada doesn't allow anything like a Cannabis Club or authorize anyone to
provide pot to cardholders beyond the assistance they get from a licensed
caregiver. They must either find it or grow their own without state help and
anyone caught providing the drug to some one is subject to state prosecution
for trafficking.

But she said that doesn't stop people from asking if they can legally get
into the business of providing marijuana to the program. One of the first
calls she got in early October was from someone who wanted to open a
"marijuana store" to provide pot to cardholders.

"I still get those questions," she said. "They still haven't learned, but
I'm real clear on it."

For the same reasons, Nevada law prohibits anyone from being a caregiver to
more than one patient. She said those approved as caregivers so far are
spouses or "life partners" of the patient holding the registry card.

Nevada's program is modeled after the one operating several years in Oregon,
which has also largely been ignored by federal prosecutors.

To qualify for a card in Nevada, the patient must provide a fingerprint card
and pass a criminal history screening. They must also provide a letter from
a Nevada medical doctor stating that they have one of the chronic and
debilitating conditions that qualifies for the medical marijuana program.

Crofoot said she is also pleased that there doesn't seem to be just one
physician in the state writing those letters.

She said the remaining test for the medical marijuana law will come when the
first of those registry cards come up for renewal at the end of a year.
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