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State's medicinal marijuana laws vague for police, growers

Reported by: Amber Dixon

Reported by: Elizabeth Donatelli
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Updated: 1/11/2013 3:40 pm
LAS VEGAS (KSNV MyNews3) -- David Garretson grows marijuana. He has a Nevada medical marijuana license, but his home is clear of plants after Las Vegas Metropolitan Police raided it.

They seized 134 plants, nearly 30 pounds of pot, 10 grams of mushrooms and about two dozen weapons, all on display in a YouTube video police produced.

“Firearms laid out throughout the entire house,” said an officer in the video.

“This is the only gun you're going to see laying out,” Garretson said, as he showed News 3 his gun. “It's not a real gun.”

Besides the gun he showed our cameras, Garretson said all other weapons seized are registered to him or his nephew and were inside safes.

He said he does not know where the mushrooms came from.

As for the pot and plants, Garretson showed News 3 a physician's note and cited a section of Nevada law that allows a person to possess more than the state law maximum if the person proves it is “medically necessary."

“You have to read the law to realize there's no limit to how many I have,” said Garretson. “It's created by me and my doctor.”

Garretson said he was offered a plea deal that would give him just a misdemeanor.

Cases like his are frustrations to Metro Police who said pot growing punishments are not tough enough.

“Currently it's pretty much the same penalty if you have a small bag with several ounces of marijuana in it or if you had 100 plants growing in your house,” LVMPD Police Director Chuck Callaway said.

Callaway said he has pushed for stricter cultivation penalties in the last two legislative sessions.

“Last session none of the marijuana bills moved,” said Callaway.

Callaway told News 3 grow houses threaten public safety, because those operating them are often amateur electricians, manipulating electric wires without experience.

He said they also use chemicals that can create moldy conditions.

He added grow houses tend to attract criminal activity.

While local police will not file a marijuana-related bill next session, Nevada state Sen. Tick Segerblom of District 3 said he will.

“My bill will create dispensaries like they have in Colorado, like they have in Arizona,” said Segerblom.

Segerblom said he wants marijuana dispensaries in Nevada tightly controlled and under the regulation of the Gaming Control Board.

“Because they're already used to the same similar thing with casino cages where they monitor the chips and the money,” said Segerblom.

According to the senator, the marijuana dispensaries are overdue in a state where medical marijuana is legal but those with medical marijuana cards often take risks to get their hands on it.

Metro Police said they’ll be sure to voice their opinion on a medical marijuana dispensary bill.

Callaway said their biggest concerns are how the dispensaries will be regulated and who can operate them.

He also stressed that on a federal level medical marijuana is not legal.

He said this puts local police in a precarious position.
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