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Sen. Tick Segerblom, Democrat, District 3

BY JOAN WHITELY -- The state senator who led a push to set up stores to sell medical marijuana said it’s “a fine day for Nevada” now that Gov. Brian Sandoval has signed the bill into law.

“Nevada pot law” started trending on Facebook soon after Sandoval signed it on Wednesday night. But it may take several years before a person can actually walk into a Nevada dispensary to buy marijuana for pain relief.

Sen. Tick Segerblom says that the state has until March 2014 to draft the rules for the program, which the senator claims will be a money generator for the state.

By law, it will cost $5,000 to apply for a license to operate either a marijuana shop or a grow-site. If a person wants to do both, he or she will have to pay $10,000 to acquire both licenses. In addition, individuals who qualify on a medical basis to buy and use the marijuana must pay to get a card – and also pay taxes on the purchase.

Segerblom disagrees with analysis from the Nevada Department of Taxation, which estimates the program will cost the state $2 million. The cost will be “vastly outweighed by revenues,” he says.

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The upcoming regulations will specify how to apply to operate a dispensary, where dispensaries can and cannot be located, and how many dispensaries can locate in each county.

The law caps the number of dispensaries statewide at 50. The number of stores per county will be dictated by each county’s population, which will prevent numerous stores from locating in a remote rural site, which would increase regulatory costs.

On the other hand, population centers like Las Vegas or Reno will not suffer from a surfeit of marijuana shops.

Nevada has decided to tax marijuana purchases – as it does cigarettes and liquor – instead of treating the purchase tax-free, as it does other meds that can be prescribed for pain relief, including corticosteroids or antidepressants.

When asked if the marijuana tax suggests that medical marijuana is less than a real medicine, Segerblom said the tax was a compromise the legislators made to get the bill passed. Over-the-counter pain relievers such as aspirin are taxed, he added.

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