Despite fear mongering, medical pot is safe

In his Aug. 17 commentary, Guy Farmer related information about hash oil explosions in an apparent attempt to warn and scare Carson City residents of upcoming doom. He makes the non sequitur argument medical marijuana establishments will precipitate a series of fiery neighborhood explosions as potheads bungle their own attempts at making hash oil. He cites statistics concerning explosions from states with legalized recreational marijuana. That is not the case in Nevada, soon to offer legal medical marijuana establishments, but not recreational. Medical marijuana has been legal in Nevada since 2001; patients have had to cultivate their own plants.

It’s not likely medical marijuana will find its way to local hash oil production, exploding neighborhoods, flames and death, despite Farmer’s threatening “Well, that’s what we can look forward to here in Carson City…”

The Nevada Medical Marijuana Program, to assist Nevadans diagnosed with chronic or debilitating medical conditions, as defined by Nevada statute, regulates and oversees the Patient Cardholder Program and the Medical Marijuana Establishment Program. The regulations for medical marijuana in Nevada strongly focus on public health and safety.

Take a look at some of the Nevada regulations to ensure a safe, secure medical marijuana industry:

• The application and screening process for potential medical marijuana establishment owners is rigorous, and requires applicants to demonstrate capability and be free of excluded felony offense convictions.

• Only medical marijuana patient cardholders or state approved agents will be allowed to enter medical marijuana establishments. All patient cardholders and establishment agents undergo background checks. Medical marijuana establishments will not be open to the general public. Medical marijuana establishment agents include owners, officers, board members, employees and volunteers.

• Medical marijuana patient cardholders suffer from conditions defined by Nevada Revised Statute (NRS) 453A.050 for the use of medical marijuana. Patients must have been advised by their physician the use of medical marijuana may mitigate the symptoms or effects of their medical condition. Approved conditions include AIDS; cancer; glaucoma; and conditions that produce cachexia, PTSD, cachexia, persistent muscle spasms, seizures, severe nausea, severe pain or other conditions as specified in the statute.

• The Division registers and tracks each attending physician who advises the use of medical marijuana. Physicians must be MD or DO, current and in good standing with the Board of Medical Examiners or the State Board of Osteopathic Medicine.

• All patient cardholders must renew their cards, get a physician’s statement and a background check annually.

The state imposes strict guidelines on medical marijuana products and establishments, and requires: Abiding by product safety guidelines, including required laboratory testing of all batches; following all applicable local fire, safety and building codes regarding the use of chemicals; having security equipment at establishments; being fully compliant with applicable safety inspections required by state and local jurisdictions including fire, building, health and air quality inspections; having at any time, unannounced inspections by the Division of premises, facilities, qualifications of personnel, methods of operation, policies and purposes, standards of safety from fire.

Having video cameras and monitoring at establishments; performing daily inventory controls; following labeling guidelines on all products; using child-resistant packaging on any product containing marijuana; being environmentally responsible; using electronic verification and inventory control to ensure the medical marijuana is dispensed only in accordance with NRAS 453A; restricting the amount of medical marijuana that can be dispensed to any given patient; using real-time tracking of marijuana and marijuana products to prevent abuse.

Providing education components to staff and public; preventing any employee with a health condition that could adversely affect the safety or quality of the product from having direct contact with marijuana or equipment or materials for processing the marijuana.

Nevada legislators and health professionals have learned many lessons from other states with legal medical marijuana, have avoided various pitfalls and have crafted solid medical marijuana regulations. It has taken a long time to get to today, and we envision a brighter tomorrow for many Nevadans whose discomfort will be mitigated by the compassionate use of medical marijuana.

Chad Westom is the Preparedness, Assurance, Inspections and Statistics Bureau Chief for the Medical Marijuana Program.


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