News Column

Final Briefs Filed in Nevada Medical Marijuana Case

February 28, 2013

Cy Ryan, Las Vegas Sun

While the state Senate has started debate on medical marijuana, the final briefs have been filed with the Nevada Supreme Court on a decision that the current law is unconstitutional.

The court will decide whether a panel or the full membership will consider the case and when and if oral arguments will be heard.

Clark County District Judge Donald Mosley tossed out criminal charges against two men, calling the current law "mind-boggling."

A Clark County grand jury indicted Nathan Hamilton and Leonard Schwingdorf who opened a nonprofit co-op called "Sin City" on 8221 W. Charleston Blvd. to provide medical marijuana to patients suffering from such ailments as cancer, HIV and from chronic and acute pain.

It had registered its business with the Secretary of State's Office.

An undercover Metro Police officer in 2011 purchased pot there on five occasions. The detective produced a registered medical card and was escorted to a room that contained 20-40 large mason jars filled with various types of the drug.

The law says a person is exempt from criminal prosecution if he or she has a valid registration card but is limited to deliver or produce only 1 ounce of marijuana.

Judge Mosley found the law "does not further but rather frustrates the constitutional mandate to reasonably provide a method for lawfully obtaining medical marijuana."

Voters on two occasions approved the legalization of medical marijuana.

Defense attorneys for the two men argue in their brief to the Supreme Court the law is "unconstitutionally vague because it fails to provide ordinary people sufficient notice regarding the exercise of their constitutional right to access medical marijuana."

They also said the law authorizes and encourages arbitrary and discriminatory enforcement.

The defense brief also disclosed that it is unclear whether Hamilton, one of the defendants, is "clinically alive after recently suffering severe brain trauma."

The Clark County District Attorney's Office argued in its brief the law "provides sufficient notice of what conduct is prohibited and provides adequate guidance to prevent arbitrary and discriminatory enforcement."

Earlier this month, members of the Senate Judiciary Committee discussed the issue, but no bill has been introduced so far. Sen. Tick Segerblom, D-Las Vegas, wants legislation creating a legal way for medical marijuana card holders to obtain the drug.

Hamilton was charged with seven counts of sale of a controlled substance; one count of possession with intent to sell and one count of maintaining an illegal residence. Schwingdorf was accused of two counts of drug sales and two counts of trafficking in controlled substances.



Source: (c)2013 the Las Vegas Sun (Las Vegas, Nev.) Distributed by MCT Information Services


Story Tools