Nevada legalizes medical pot

Ngaio Bealum is a Sacramento comedian, activist and marijuana expert. Email him questions at

Did Nevada really just pass a law allowing medical-cannabis dispensaries?

—Hank the High Roller

Yes! Gov. Brian Sandoval just signed a law allowing medical-cannabis dispensaries. The law came into being after a Nevada Senate judiciary committee determined that the state wasn’t doing enough to help medical-cannabis patients access their medicine. Imagine that. A state is actually helping medical-cannabis patients. California, I’m looking at you.

The law includes a 2 percent excise tax on wholesale and retail transactions. Any money left after administrative costs will be given to the state’s education fund.

But don’t start planning your ganja-and-gambling getaway just yet. Nevada’s medical-cannabis clubs will be open only to state residents.

How much money does it cost the government to go after medical-cannabis users?

—Frank Fiscal

I am glad you asked. According to a recent report released by Americans for Safe Access (http://americansforsafe, the Obama administration has spent $289 million over the past four-and-a-half years going after the medical-cannabis industry. I am sure we could all come up with a better way to spend $289 million.

To use one of Obama’s favorite phrases: The people against medical marijuana are on “the wrong side of history.” More than 60 percent of Americans support medical marijuana, while more than 50 percent support outright marijuana legalization. So, why is the Obama administration still going after the medical-cannabis industry? My best guess: It’s the money. Private prisons receive about $40,000 per year per prisoner. If the laws are relaxed, they get fewer prisoners. Fewer prisoners mean less money. When finding a reason to put productive, responsible, law-abiding people in prison helps your business, you have found capitalism in its ugliest form. Why not use that $289 million to go after child abusers? Or white-collar criminals? Or anything other than putting cannabis users in jail?

Did the city of Riverside, California, really just ban medical-cannabis delivery services?

—T. Mecula

Yeah, but how is it going to enforce this law? Good old Riverside was one of the first cities to ban cannabis dispensaries, and now it has passed a law making MMJ delivery services illegal as well. Riverside claims that it needs to stop medical-cannabis deliveries because of crime, but pizza-delivery guys get robbed, and it hasn’t banned pizza deliveries. Yet.

There is some debate over if Riverside can even do such a thing, seeing as the California vehicle code pre-empts cities from interfering with delivery services. Also, what’s it gonna do? Set up sting operations? Does the government of Riverside really think that if it bans pot clubs and pot-delivery services, people will stop using weed? Because we all know that before medical marijuana was legal, no one in Riverside ever smoked pot.