By Chris Kudialis
Medical marijuana cards will now cost as low as $50 for Nevada patients, edible products will come in opaque, child-proof packages and a 10 percent excise tax on sales of recreational weed estimated to generate $70 million will be designated for Nevada's rainy day fund after three of four remaining marijuana bills passed by the Nevada Legislature were signed into law Monday by Gov. Brian Sandoval.
Senate Bills 478 and 344 were inked by the governor Monday along with Assembly Bill 422. Only Assembly Bill 259 -- which would have allowed those convicted of past marijuana-related crimes involving an equal or lesser amount of what's now legal to have that crime vacated from their criminal records -- was vetoed.
SB478 also calls for a 15 percent wholesale tax on both medical and recreational marijuana, a move praised by dispensary owners as cost-cutting, despite increasing current wholesale tax on the medical plant.
The added tax allows a single-stream wholesale process from cultivation and production facilities to marijuana dispensaries, said Armen Yemenidijian of Essence Cannabis Dispensary, and saves weed vendors from the added internal costs and logistical headaches of having to classify marijuana plants as either medical or recreational from the moment the seed is planted.
"Having one inventory is very important," Yemenidjian said. "It'd be very difficult and cumbersome to manage two different inventories."
Yemenidjian also voiced support for SB344 and AB422, adding that the legislation would help preserve Nevada's medical marijuana program while allowing its new recreational weed industry to thrive.
"Patient focus is really important for the industry," he said. "And this legislation does that."
In a letter explaining his veto of AB259, Sandoval criticized the bill for specifically requiring judges to seal records and vacate judgements for marijuana possession crimes of less than one ounce. He argued that those convicted of previous marijuana crimes should instead take advantage of recently signed SB125 and AB327, both of which expedite the record-sealing process in Nevada but don't mandate such action from judges.
"Given the new reforms to the record-sealing process, there is no need for a separate procedure for marijuana crimes," Sandoval wrote.
The governor also called language in AB259 "unclear," arguing that the term "other offenses," could inadvertently allow people convicted of larger marijuana crimes, like trafficking and possession of larger quantities than the current legal limit, to also have their previous crimes vacated.
(c)2017 the Las Vegas Sun (Las Vegas, Nev.)