Grow-it-yourself medicinal pot

To get an application packet or to find out more about Nevada’s medical marijuana program, call Cecile Crofoot at 684-5333.
Yes, after two public votes and much legislative debate, sick Nevadans will be able to register in October to legally smoke marijuana for relief from pain, nausea or muscle spasms. But getting a registration card from the Nevada Department of Agriculture (agriculture?!?) will probably be the simplest hoop to jump through. Qualifying individuals need only to get a fingerprint card (which costs $20 in Reno) and pass a background check that looks only for prior drug convictions, not for any other law violations.

“You can have committed murder and still be eligible for a registry card,” said program manager Cecile Crofoot.

To qualify for Nevada’s ad hoc medical marijuana program set in motion just a few months ago, you need to have AIDS, cancer, glaucoma or a medical condition involving cahexia, muscle spasms, seizures, severe nausea or severe pain. Then, you have to find a doctor willing to say that you have AIDS, cancer, glaucoma, etc.

No, no, no. The doctor does not have to write a prescription. The doctor, licensed to practice medicine in Nevada, merely has to look at your ID, counsel you about using marijuana and sign a paper saying you have a qualifying disease. But some doctors may still be unwilling to participate in the process, worried one potential medical marijuana user who attended a public workshop in Sparks August 7.

“My doctor told me he was unwilling to help me out of fear of the federal government,” the woman told Don Henderson, assistant director of the Nevada Department of Agriculture. “Am I going to run into a lot of that?”

A few physicians have called to ask the NDOA for informational packets on the program, he said. But the state agency won’t be referring possible patients to doctors with a track record of approvals or anything. Patients are on their own.

Getting a registry card means that the state won’t arrest you or your caregiver for growing up to seven marijuana plants—three mature, flower-producing plants and four immature plants—for possessing up to one ounce of usable marijuana or for smoking it in private. But it won’t protect patients from federal prosecution. And, when it comes to obtaining seeds and growing the plants, patients are again on their own.

“We can’t advise you on that,” Henderson said. “But it’s my understanding that there are ways to order seeds.”

“On the Internet,” added a helpful workshop participant.

“And it’s pretty easy to grow,” Henderson said.

“It’s a weed.”

A quick search turns up a dozen or more Web sites selling seeds from $35 (10 seeds of any Niagara strain) to $275 (20 seeds of a potent hybrid). Several sites accept payment via PayPal, a method popular with eBay users.

Last year, a committee studying medical marijuana use in Nevada proposed that the state grow and distribute pot through a university research program. (That’s why the Department of Agriculture is still in charge of the project.)

"But we were told, ‘Sure, state of Nevada, you can grow marijuana—we’ll just throw you in jail,' " Henderson said, smiling.