Nevada Assembly Backs Fine-Only Penalty for Marijuana, Medi-Pot Plan

Assembly lawmakers overwhelming approved legislation Wednesday reducing marijuana penalties and authorizing its medical use. Nevada’s present law – which defines the first time possession of even one joint as a felony offense punishable by up to four years in jail – is the toughest in the nation.
Legislators voted 30 to 12 in favor of a measure minimizing pot penalties from a felony to a misdemeanor punishable by a maximum $600 fine. Second time offenders would be mandated to undergo drug treatment and face a $1,000 fine. The law change – which has been recommended by two state judicial review commissions in the past five years – would bring Nevada’s marijuana penalties in line with those in the other 49 states.
Assembly Bill 453 also legalizes the use of medical marijuana by patients who have their doctor’s approval to use the drug. State voters approved a constitutional amendment legalizing the use of medical marijuana in 1998 and 2000. The bill, sponsored by Assemblywoman Chris Giunchigliani (D-Las Vegas), would allow qualified patients to grow up to seven marijuana plants for medical purposes and establish a confidential patient registry. Because the proposal only exempts patients who use marijuana medically from state prosecution and does not legalize distribution of the drug, it appears unthreatened by the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent ruling.
“This implements the will of the people,” Giunchigliani said, adding that she is confident Gov. Kenny Guinn (R) will sign the bill. Medical marijuana “is a states’ rights issue which Nevadans hold dear. … [This proposal is] not condoning drug use.”
Giunchigliani’s proposal now moves to the Senate, which has until June 4 to act on it.
For more information, please contact either Keith Stroup, NORML Executive Director, or Paul Armentano at (202) 483-5500. To learn more about A.B. 453, please visit: http://capwiz.com/norml2/officials/state/?lvl=L&state=nv.