CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) — More staff has been authorized to implement Nevada’s new medical marijuana law.
A panel of state lawmakers Thursday approved $365,000 to hire five administrators who will oversee applications and inspectors for pot growers, processors and dispensaries.
The Legislature’s Interim Finance Committee was told the state’s general fund will be repaid through fees once the program is up and running.
Nevada voters approved medical marijuana in 2000, but the only way for patients to obtain it has been to grow it themselves.
That’s about to change after the 2013 Legislature approved a bill setting up a distribution and taxing structure for medical marijuana.
Program manager Marla McDade Williams told lawmakers the positions should be filled by March.
Inspectors will oversee and regulate about 150 facilities, and some dispensaries could be open by fall, McDade Williams said.
So far, the state has authorized funding for 12 permanent positions, including a manager to oversee the medical marijuana office, a coordinator, a communications specialist and a pair of administrators, McDade Williams told the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
“A worst-case scenario is if we’ve completely underestimated the demand for the medicine,” she told the newspaper. “But right now, I’m just excited that we’ve got the funding and we can finally move forward with hiring people.
“If the positions are not funded, we are compromising our ability to review the applications within 90 days as the statute requires.”
Counties and municipal governments are weighing their own options on whether to allow dispensaries within their jurisdictions. Some have imposed a moratorium on dispensaries until they review final state regulations.
The law does not require local governments to accept medical marijuana operations.
The Las Vegas City Council this week directed staff to research allowing dispensaries within the city limits. A six-month moratorium imposed there expires in March.
Under the law, patients with medical marijuana cards would still be allowed to grow their own and have up to 12 plants if the nearest dispensary is further than 25 miles away, McDade Williams said.