Although it has been over fifteen years since the citizens of Nevada voted to amend the state constitution to allow for the medicinal use of marijuana, to date there are still no legal dispensaries in operation. For years medical marijuana patients have been forced to grow their own medicine, or even acquire their medicine on the black market.. However, with the passage of SB374 in 2013, Nevada has made licensed medical marijuana dispensaries legal. SB374 is arguably a step in the right direction, however many patients are left wondering whether they will still be able to grow their own medicine should they choose to do so. Unfortunately for most patients, what the legislature has given with one hand it has taken with the other.

There are various reasons some patients wish to continue growing. For some, cost is a very real concern, it is simply cheaper to grow your own medicine (after investing in the equipment to do so) than it is to purchase on the open market. For others, a home cultivation program can afford much more privacy than being forced into the open market. Some patients have been cultivating and breeding their own strains for years and simply cannot acquire medicine of the same quality on the market.

This is a perfectly legitimate concern, after all many people are on disability and cannot afford paying retail for their medicine. Distance is also another big concern for patients, having to drive miles to a dispensary can be a great burden for those who do not live close to a dispensary or have transportation. Specific strains can also be hard to come by so some patients have to grow a specific strain to meet their medical condition.

Currently NRS 453A.200 permits a patient to grow up to 12 plants, irrespective of whether the marijuana plants are mature or immature.. However, if after a medical marijuana dispensary opens in the county of residence of a person who holds a registry identification card or his or her designated caregiver, such person will not longer be authorized to cultivate, grow or produce marijuana. Due to the fact that Nevada’s counties are large and few, chances are you will no longer be able to grow your own medicine.

There are exceptions though; NRS 200A.200(6) carves out a few exceptions to this prohibition on growing your medicine. If after a dispensary opens in your county of residence and you have a valid medical marijuana card or your caregiver, you may still be permitted to grow your 12 plants if:

· You hold a registry identification card or your designated caregiver, and he or she was growing, cultivating or producing marijuana in accordance with chapter 453A on or before July 1, 2013. This means you had a valid marijuana card on or before July 1, 2013 and you were growing in accordance with the law. Growing prior to July 1, 2013 and while not having a valid card does not count. This exception will expire March 31, 2016;

· You have a valid medical marijuana card or your designated caregiver and the dispensaries in your county close or are unable to supply the quantity or strain of marijuana necessary for the medical use to treat your specific medical condition;

· Because your illness or lack of transportation and you hold a valid medical marijuana card and you and your caregiver are unable to reasonably travel to a medical marijuana dispensary; or

· No medical marijuana dispensary was operating within 25 miles of the residence of a person who holds a medical marijuana card at the time the person first applied for his or her registry identification card.

Note that SB 447 which was recently signed by the governor clarified the exceptions by including a designated caregiver. However, it did not amend or change the exceptions. SB 447 did extend the first exception until April 1, 2018 (if you had a card by July 1, 2013).

Keep in mind that some of these exceptions may have to be proven in court if you are arrested, cited or charges have been filed against you, which can be costly and risky. Furthermore, Nevada law on marijuana is constantly changing so you should always ensure you are compliant.

If you have questions about the patient’s right to grow or other medical marijuana related issues, do not hesitate to contact Connor & Connor.

This is for informative purposes only and does not create and attorney-client relationship.