Coming up bust in Vegas

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Lawyer blasts conflicts in state’s marijuana laws

By Francis McCabe
LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL

Attorney Bob Draskovich believes the Legislature “violated the will of the people” by passing a medical marijuana law that provides no way for a patient to legally obtain the substance .

Draskovich and his law partners on Monday lauded District Judge Donald Mosley’s ruling last week that declared the state’s law allowing medical marijuana distribution unconstitutional.

Mosley’s decision, first reported by the Review-Journal, set the stage for a Supreme Court showdown as it conflicted with a fellow judge’s ruling that found the same law valid.

“We have one district court that’s saying medicinal marijuana is unconstitutional and we have another saying the exact opposite. We’re hoping the Nevada Supreme Court addresses this split in the district (courts) as soon as possible,” Draskovich said.

District Attorney Steve Wolfson did not return a call requesting comment on Mosley’s ruling.

As it stands, one Nevada law allows medical marijuana cardholders to possess, deliver or produce minute amounts of marijuana for pain relief. But other state laws make it illegal to buy or sell marijuana, leaving no realistic way for patients to obtain the herb.

Prosecutors say local marijuana dispensary staff suggested a specific cash donation for the marijuana, which under state law qualifies as “consideration” and is illegal. Also, the dispensaries were growing an abundance of marijuana plants, more than the seven plants allowed under the medical marijuana law.

Under the constitutional amendment, ratified by Nevada voters in 2000, “the Legislature shall provide by law for …appropriate methods for supply of the plant to patients authorized to use it.”

Draskovich said the only way a patient can now legally possess marijuana is to first commit a crime to obtain it.

By not clearing the way for a patient to legally obtain marijuana, the Legislature failed to abide by the amendment to the state constitution that led to the enactment of the law, the lawyer explained.

More than a dozen defendants in several cases are facing criminal charges for distributing medical marijuana. The defendants say they were trying to fill a void left by the Legislature and supply medical marijuana to patients unable to grow it themselves.

But authorities have cracked down and closed nearly all the local entities distributing marijuana to state-registered patients because, the authorities allege, the cooperatives are violating Nevada criminal law.

Meanwhile, if the state’s high court takes up the issue, it either could direct the district courts to move forward with trials based on the criminal statutes or force the Legislature to review the medical marijuana law

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