Nevada Medical Cannabis Not Much Help For People in Pain

The following article is a pretty good illustration of why it is necessary to flatly legalize cannabis and let the State control what they are allowed to actually control…Commerce. You know. That’s where a third party is involved in an exchange of goods. An example would be if I were to sell my tomatoes to a health food store and then you were to buy them from that store. If Nevada’s law, which arguably is  poorly written, didn’t have limits on home growers, people could simply help each other. Bureaucracies are horrible at getting help to people when they need it. The medical marijuana with heavy state run controls is more than frustrating for people who are in pain. I’ll be posting several articles about these problems to illustrate why Missourians need to support the 2016-013 Constitutional Amendment.

The article below reminds of the laws regarding cannabis in California in the early 1990’s. At that time, it was legal to have up to one ounce…But you couldn’t buy it, couldn’t grow it and couldn’t sell it. Apparently it was supposed to spontaneously generate in your pocket or purse.

In pain and tired of waiting for legal marijuana

For more than a year, Sheila Gerstenzang has carried the card in her wallet: “Medical Marijuana Patient.”

But she’s yet to purchase a single bit of marijuana.

After a year of frustration and more than $200 out of her pocket, she gave up and let her card expire in May.

Months of delays in opening the first legal Las Vegas-area dispensary have cost investors money and frustrated advocates. But the effect on patients has been the most cruel.

There are more than 9,300 active marijuana cardholders in Nevada, including almost 6,700 in Clark County. There also are an untold number like Gerstenzang who have given up, at least for now.

Nevada’s first dispensary opened July 31 in Sparks. But in Clark County, where nearly three-quarters of the state’s population lives, patients are still waiting.

Gerstenzang, who is in her 60s, has progressive scoliosis and spinal stenosis that cause nearly constant pain. She was first diagnosed at age 9.

About five years ago, with her pain getting worse and specialists unable to help, she did some research and read that marijuana could help her conditions. But she didn’t want to grow her own or use a drug that hadn’t been tested.

Last year, after reading about the coming legal dispensaries, she applied for and got her patient card.

And then she waited.

“It makes me very angry,” Gerstenzang said recently, sitting in the living room of her home in the Summerlin area of Las Vegas. “It makes me feel like we’re all being taken advantage of, we’re being bled for money.”

‘Nothing I can do’

Nearly everyone involved — including county and state officials — has said for months they want dispensaries open in Las Vegas. Yet it hasn’t happened.

Depending on who you ask, you can blame bureaucratic foot-dragging, business decisions, politics, a poorly written state law — or some combination thereof.

It’s been legal for cardholders to grow their own marijuana in Nevada since 2001. In both 1998 and 2000, voters easily approved legalizing it for medical use.

Two years ago, the Legislature voted to allow commercial growing and dispensaries. State Sen. Tick Segerblom, who sponsored that 2013 law, has been frustrated and surprised at how long it’s taken to get Clark County dispensaries open.

In their overly narrow interpretations of its gray areas, Segerblom said, some people seem to have lost sight of the law’s purpose.

“At the end of the day, you have sick people with medical cards who can’t buy this 15 years after the voters of the state approved it,” said Segerblom, D-Las Vegas.

The latest controversy is over one shop’s business plan. Euphoria Wellness, the only dispensary in the county that’s gotten its final state registration, planned to open in March selling marijuana it bought from home growers. That’s allowed under state law.

But the county balked at Euphoria’s plan to buy pounds of marijuana from each grower, citing a separate clause in the law that says a patient can only possess 2½ ounces of “usable marijuana” at a time.

By definition, that means it would be illegal for anyone to sell more than 2½ ounces to a dispensary, the county argues.

Segerblom said that was never the intent of the law, since such a small amount would make the marijuana prohibitively expensive to buy and test. Part of the dispute centers on the definition of the word “usable.”

So the delay has dragged on. Euphoria still isn’t open, and its temporary county business license expired July 30. The dispensary recently threatened to take the county to court, but said it hopes to avoid that.

County Commission Chairman Steve Sisolak said businesses bear blame for the delays, too. He pointed to growers who have long had clearance, but have not started operations.

“There’s a certain amount that the government can control, but we can’t control the economics of it,” Sisolak said.

He said he’s gotten calls from frustrated patients, some of whom tell him they’ve spent $800 or more — for nothing.

“I sympathize … but there’s nothing I can do,” Sisolak said.

‘It’s getting worse’

Some days are better than others. But when asked to describe her pain, Gerstenzang put it this way: “It’s every day; it’s 24 hours a day.”

She can’t sleep comfortably in any position and can’t turn over in bed. She can’t even do the most mundane of tasks, something no one misses until you can’t do it: “I would like to be able to clean my toilet,” she said.

The pain is mostly on her right side, but sometimes spreads to her upper back, too. She can only walk for about a block before it kicks in.

“It’s awful. It’s getting worse,” said her husband of 12 years, Herb. “We can’t have a normal relationship.”

The Gerstenzangs love to travel, but it can be torture. On a trip to Europe, Sheila coped by walking while leaning on a doggie stroller.

A Spanish teacher in New York, she retired on disability in 2002 after becoming unable to even bend over a desk to help a student. Not long after that, the couple moved to Nevada.

Five years ago, when the pain was getting worse, she went to see pain management specialists and an orthopedist. She had an epidural. Nothing helped.

Someone recommended an opiate pump, but she worried about infection.

After reading up on marijuana, she decided she wanted to try a strain low in THC, the main mind-altering substance in marijuana.

“Well, I’m a child of the ’70s, and I did not want to get high any more,” Gerstenzang said.

She called some “delivery” services that advertise online — which are illegal — but none could tell her about the THC content of their marijuana because it hadn’t been tested.

While driving, the Gerstenzangs stopped in Colorado, but a dispensary there couldn’t tell her the THC content of its product, either.

A friend once gave Sheila a little bit of “stuff in honey,” as she put it — a marijuana-infused product. She said she took only a tiny bite, which made her feel “very weird” and did nothing for pain.

The Gerstenzangs are glad marijuana sold in Nevada will be tested. Herb, a pharmacist who worked in drug approval for the Food and Drug Administration, said he wouldn’t want his wife taking an untested drug.

So for now, they wait. With no dispensary open, Sheila sees no point paying more money to her doctor, the state and the Department of Motor Vehicles, which issues the driver’s license-like patient cards.

State officials said they don’t track why people decide not to renew the cards, and they couldn’t say last week how many had made that decision this year.

Once a local dispensary opens, Gerstenzang said, she’ll see if it has a low-THC product, then consider applying for a card again.

“Of course, we have no idea whether it will help me,” she said. “But I’d like to be able to find out.”


5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. InalienableWrights
    Aug 12, 2015 @ 10:36:13

    Government has no right or legitimacy in getting involved in “commerce”. I do not see that authority in the US Constitution, no matter how closely I look!

    Commerce is just an extension of your right to conduct free market transactions/contract with whomever you wish, with NO government interference. A legitimate government should protect this right not trample and criminalize it.

    Who ever came up with the idea that government can interfere with my God given right to conduct commerce must have smoked a bit too much of the weed himself. I claim all rights as Inalienable that do not interfere with others right to life, liberty, and property.


    • truthfarmer
      Aug 12, 2015 @ 10:46:42

      I appreciate your view, but commerce is considered an action of the state in most legal issues I can find. It is NOT commerce for me to deal directly with you on anything. The Fed level has used the interstate commerce clause as a hammer for pretty much any impediment they wish to place on the people. Unfortunately, this has been upheld in numerous court decisions. It looks to me as though the various states draw their ability to impeded the commerce of the people within the state through licensing predominately. This is why I am so devoted to direct trade between individuals.

      On Wed, Aug 12, 2015 at 10:36 AM, Truth Farmer wrote:



      • InalienableWrights
        Aug 12, 2015 @ 11:45:58

        If their claim to regulate “commerce” comes from the Interstate Commerce clause and Filburn, then their claim to have ANY nexus at all to regulate intra-state commerce as they are in this case is beyond specious. I think we all can see tyranny under color of law and this is a clear example of it.

        In a just world anyone using it to interfere with my right to contract should get a long prison sentence. It is clear and unambiguous treason IMHO.

        A republic is supposed to protect even the rights of the minority, but it has not done so from even the very beginning, nor has it done so since. We should go back to the articles of confederation if we are to have a Federal government at all. Governments, no matter how well constrained by words on paper, are not so constrained and will never will be. The beast in DC needs to be buried…..

      • truthfarmer
        Aug 12, 2015 @ 11:52:46

        We are on the same page. Unfortunately, while we were sleeping, (present company graciously excluded) we went from Common Law where anything not expressly forbidden is permitted, to Napoleanic law where if it isn’t expressly permitted, it is forbidden.

        On Wed, Aug 12, 2015 at 11:46 AM, Truth Farmer wrote:


      • InalienableWrights
        Aug 12, 2015 @ 12:07:04

        That is certainly a valid way of looking at it. 🙂

        The answer obviously is to get rid of the Christian supported, funded by theft, government schools, where no thoughts that could threaten the states total monopoly on power can be taught. The main thing being taught there is to not question the state and to go along with everything that it imposes upon the individual.

        Funny how Christians support the states stealing for schools because their God the state says it’s OK. Just like they support murder when the state says it’s OK, and calls it war.

        I do not seeing us getting out of this in one piece as Christians almost to a man do not see that their support of the states tyranny is the very root of the problem….. they think that prayer coupled with the very actions that are creating the problem will somehow miraculously solve it and contain the evil.

        I upset people, but I am firm in my belief that mainstream Christians are the biggest threat to liberty, and freedom that we have in this country. They have no clue as to what a right is. Really… no a clue at all…. they also if not by their words, then by their actions see the state as their God. Muslims are no threat to us compared to the brain dead, apostate, government worshiping Christians of this country.

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