It’s easier for people from out of state to get medical marijuana in Nevada than it is for certified residents to get it. While steps are being taken to reduce the amount of time it takes for residents to obtain medical marijuana, the problem still won’t be solved.

Let’s take a closer look at what’s happening.

The State of Reciprocity in the State of Nevada

In Nevada, it can take months for a patient to obtain a medical marijuana card after a doctor has provided approval. According to Chris Kudialis of the Las Vegas Sun, the state refers to this time as a mandatory “cooling-off” process, and it includes four steps:

  1. The patient must obtain a doctor’s recommendation for medical marijuana.
  2. The patient must mail an application to the Nevada Division of Public and Behavioral Health in Carson City, Nevada.
  3. The patient must wait for the application to be reviewed and a background check to be done before receiving approval for a medical marijuana card.
  4. The patient must go to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to obtain a medical marijuana card after the application has been approved.

While Nevada law requires that application processing be completed within 30 days, that hasn’t been the reality. It’s been a manual process handled by three full-time employees and four contractors at the Nevada Division of Public and Behavioral Health, and it takes months to complete.

Compare the months it takes for a Nevada resident to get a medical marijuana card to the amount of time it takes for a resident of a different state to get a medical marijuana card when they visit Nevada. Thanks to reciprocity laws in Nevada, out-of-state patients can get medical marijuana cards within minutes. There are even businesses popping up through Las Vegas to take advantage of reciprocity laws!

In the meantime, Nevada residents are still waiting for their medical marijuana cards.

Speeding up the Process to Obtain Medical Marijuana for Nevada Residents

Fortunately, state legislators recognized that the delays in processing medical marijuana cards for Nevada residents was a problem. Even the 30-day wait for the best-case-scenario processing timeframe is too much for cancer and multiple sclerosis patients who could benefit from medical marijuana immediately.

This week, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported that a new Division of Public and Behavioral Health office will open in Las Vegas which should help Nevada residents access medical marijuana more quickly. Once the office opens, residents won’t have to mail their applications to the processing office in Carson City, NV. They can take their application directly to the Las Vegas office.

The new office is working with several medical marijuana dispensaries in Nevada to speed up the entire process, which will now look like this:

  1. The patient must obtain a doctor’s recommendation for medical marijuana.
  2. The patient must work with a trained staff member at one of 10 participating medical marijuana dispensaries in Southern Nevada to fill out the application correctly. The dispensary will set up an appointment for the patient with the Las Vegas office of the Division of Public and Behavioral Health.
  3. The patient can take the doctor’s recommendation and application to their appointment at the Las Vegas office and gain immediate approval for a medical marijuana card. They’ll receive an approval letter which will enable them to get medical marijuana on the same day.
  4. Within 60 days, the patient must go to the DMV to get a medical marijuana card.

It’s still not a perfect process, and enabling people to submit applications online would certainly be even more streamlined, but it’s a step in the right direction. At least some patients who live in Nevada and could benefit from medical marijuana can now get it almost as quickly as out-of-state patients can based on reciprocity rules.

Cannabiz Media will release a state-by-state report about the marijuana licensing economy soon which will include detailed information on reciprocity. Subscribe to the Cannabiz Media Newsletter or Cannabiz Alerts so you don’t miss it!