Progress Continues: First Medical Marijuana Dispensary Opens in Nevada

On Aug. 4, Nevada’s first medical marijuana dispensary opened last Friday, representing another step toward thwarting the federal ban on cannabis in practice in the Silver State.

Nevada legalized marijuana for medical use more than a decade ago, but it wasn’t until 2013 that the legislature passed a bill allowing dispensaries to operate legally. That law didn’t go into effect until April 2014.

Of course, dispensaries operated under the radar ever since the state legalized medicinal cannabis. But operators knew state authorities could shut them down at any time. Now these businesses can emerge from the shadows.

According to the Reno Gazette-Journal, the grand opening of Silver State Relief was the culmination of nearly two years of planning, registering, building and growing. Along with its retail space, the company also operates a grow facility in a nearby warehouse.

“It’s a plant,” general manager Aron Swan said. “It’s an herb that helps people.”

Helpful of not, the federal government prohibits Silver State Relief’s new operation. In fact, the feds maintain a blanket ban on marijuana for any purpose. But the grand opening of the new Nevada facility further roots cannabis in the state and represents another beg step toward stopping that federal ban in effect.

The federal government lacks any real authority to prohibit or regulate marijuana within the borders of a state, despite the opinion of the politically connected lawyers on the Supreme Court. If you doubt this, ask yourself why it took a constitutional amendment to institute federal alcohol prohibition.

Many people find it abhorrent that the federal government denies Americans suffering from debilitating pain a treatment that offers them relief. When states back the federal ban, these patients face an agonizing choice: risk jail or suffer in silence. But 23 states have said, “No!” to federal prohibition, and “Yes!” to patients who benefit from marijuana.

While the feds can still try to enforce their ban in Nevada, arresting a cancer patient simply trying to find relief from pain doesn’t make for very good PR. More importantly, the number of states legalizing marijuana for both medical use, and for the general public, has made it increasingly difficult for the DEA to enforce prohibition. The federal government simply lacks the resources to impose its will on more than half the country.

Statistics from Americans for Safe Access (ASA) suggest that costs-per-raid and costs-per-investigation far exceed the yearly DEA budget. Figures indicate It would take 40 percent of the DEA’s yearly-budget just to investigate and raid all of the dispensaries in Los Angeles – a single city in a single state. That doesn’t include the cost of prosecution.

The bottom line is that the feds need state cooperation to enforce prohibition. That has rapidly evaporated through the actions of states like Nevada, blocking in practice the federal ban.