Most of the hot pot topics in the news recently have centered on Colorado’s first legal retail marijuana market for consumers aged 21 plus, especially as Coloradans and cities within the state begin to work out the kinks of the new law. Meanwhile, neighboring states are discussing what to do with residents who’ve crossed state borders to legally partake, only to drive back still technically under the influence (up to weeks later!). Nevada is one of those neighboring states struggling with the great pot debate, too, as this Las Vegas Review-Journal article reports. One resident, David Silvaggio, has a story that demonstrates – pretty case-in-point – the legal limbo of marijuana use inside Nevada.
Silvaggio has been through a legal whirlwind. His attorneys in Las Vegas, Nevada stood steadfast as he faced several felony drug charges that were ultimately dropped entirely, largely in part because Silvaggio, and his attorneys, refused to budge. The blaze of legal activity started with a literal fire in Silvaggio’s home, where he was growing his own medical marijuana (which at the time, was legal). When firefighters responded to the blaze and found a grow room, they called law enforcement and Silvaggio was arrested for possession with intent to distribute. Prosecutors believed the amount he was growing at home was more than what he medically needed and therefore, accused him of selling his produce. Silvaggio’s defense attorneys in Las Vegas argued that their client had a legal medical marijuana card and was within his rights to produce and consume marijuana in his home. They and their client stood remained steadfast and demanded a trial, even when several plea deals to reduce the charge were offered.
The prosecution and defense attorneys in Las Vegas battled this one out behind the scenes, though, and Silvaggio never got his trial. Instead, prosecutors dropped the case altogether. It’s a small wonder why. Nevada’s marijuana laws are vague and confusing. Two years ago, state laws allowed medical marijuana cardholders to possess, deliver or produce minute amounts of marijuana for pain relief. Someone with a registered card could possess 1 ounce and grow three mature plants and four immature plants at one time, meaning a person could theoretically only hold one dose at a time. But these laws didn’t allow a patient to buy marijuana, only to simply grow it in limited amounts.
Marijuana advocates, attorneys in Las Vegas and Nevada lawmakers attempted to figure out how to remedy the situation. A law passed last year has helped. It regulates the distribution of medical marijuana to patients, and allows up to 40 marijuana dispensaries in Clark County. No more need for grow rooms – or at least, that’s the idea. But patients will have to wait until this summer before the program is up and running (the State Health Division’s initially anticipated start date is April 1). In the meantime, patients will continue to muddle through Nevada’s mystifying marijuana laws, with some requiring a great Las Vegas attorney to represent them while the legal wrinkles are ironed out.
Prosecutors on Silvaggio’s case wouldn’t comment on the RJ story, but his defense attorney said he was grateful the district attorneys dismissed the case, noting he felt his client had been vindicated. “I’m glad the government was part of the solution this time, and not part of the problem,” he said.