- Associated Press - Monday, January 27, 2014

CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) - Nevada state Sen. Greg Brower said Monday he has reservations about a state law setting up a distribution process for medical marijuana and suggested it could be repealed.

The Reno Republican and former U.S. attorney said he reluctantly supported the law in the 2013 Legislature that created a framework to tax medicinal pot and allow for it to be grown, processed and sold to the nearly 5,000 Nevadans who hold medical marijuana cards.

According to the Nevada Division of Public and Behavioral Health, the state received nearly 1,500 new card applications since July soon after the law was signed by Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval.

Nevada voters approved medical marijuana in 2000, but that law provided no legal way for patients to obtain the drug except to grow it themselves.

The 2013 law was designed to change that with a structure to regulate distribution. It also authorized one pot dispensary in each of Nevada’s 14 rural counties, with up to 40 allowed in Clark County, 10 in Washoe and two in Carson City.

But the law also gives cities and counties authorities to opt out of the program and many have imposed moratoriums on approving marijuana sites or delayed action on ordinances until state regulations are finalized.

Marla McDade Williams, deputy administrator of the state division overseeing the program, said more dispensaries could be allowed in unincorporated Clark County if municipal jurisdictions within the county don’t allow them.

Brower told local government representatives and members of the Advisory Commission on the Administration of Justice that marijuana is still illegal under federal law, despite a directive by the Obama administration giving states permission to experiments with marijuana regulation.

Brower said while the Department of Justice said it won’t interfere with state efforts to regulate pot, the policy shift doesn’t change federal law.

He urged city and county governments not to be afraid to tell lawmakers in 2015 that the law isn’t working.

“I’m not just sure this can work, and what the Legislature can give the Legislature can take away,” Brower said.

State regulations for licensing dispensaries, growing operations and processing facilities are to be finalized by April 1.

Sen. Tick Segerblom, D-Las Vegas, discounted Brower’s skepticism, saying “it’s going to happen.”

Segerblom is chairman of the advisory commission and was the prime sponsor of SB374, the medical marijuana dispensary law.

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