Obtaining a Medical Marijuana Card in Nevada

A NV medical marijuana card looks just like a driver's license
A NV medical marijuana card looks just like a driver’s license. Not sure why I blacked out the “MEDICAL MARIJUANA PATIENT” header.

I’ve had a Nevada medical marijuana card since 2010, and people are always asking me how they can get one, too. There are already several sites out there explaining the process, and really all it takes is a quick Google search…but why refer people to some other asshole’s page when I can drive traffic here?! So, here’s my advice if you want to obtain a medical MJ card in the state of NV:

First of all, decide if you really need/want a card. It’s GREAT to be legal, and not have to hide your pot-smoking…but keep in mind that Nevada is an at-will employment state, so your employer can basically terminate you for any reason they want — which includes failing a drug test, even if it’s technically your legal medicine. (I know it’s bullshit, and seems like discrimination to me…but I’m not sure what your legal grounds would be in that scenario. Fortunately for me, I’m self-employed and don’t have to give a fuck!!! But if you’re unfortunate enough to work for some asshole, be advised.)

Also, child services or whatever might have something to say about you using your meds around your kids…I haven’t heard of anyone being hassled over that, but it might be an issue for any of you parents out there. Additionally, anyone with a commercial driver’s license in ineligible, as is anyone with a prior drug conviction.

Also keep in mind that the way you can use your medicine will be strictly regulated; you can only use it at home, basically. You can’t transport it across state lines, so forget about using your meds while traveling. And you’re not allowed to use in public — like at parties, concerts, etc. It’s medicine, fool! You can still get a ticket for using it recreationally.

Finally, be advised that it’s kinda hard to get medicine in Vegas; the dispensaries were all shut down due to their existing in a sort of legal limbo, and until the lawmakers get that straightened out, the only way to get your meds is to grow it yourself (you can grow seven plants with a MMJ card, 3 of which can be mature at one time) or to order it from a delivery service. The delivery service is convenient, but they tack on a $5 delivery fee plus tip to the already high prices: expect to pay around $50-$60 for 1/8oz. (plus tip/fees). *NOTE: this is all supposedly changing in 2014…they finally passed a bill to allow dispensaries to operate…so we’ll see how that goes.

After considering all that, if you still feel it’s worth it to have a card (as I do…I LOVE being able to tout my potsmoking to the world), then here’s how you go about it.

First off, Nevada only approves the use of marijuana to treat four conditions…so you have to decide which of the four you’re suffering from: AIDS, cancer, glaucoma… or everyone’s favorite catch-all,  “Any medical condition or treatment to a medical condition that produces: cachexia, persistent muscle spasms or seizures or severe nausea or pain.” In case you can’t decipher that last part…it basically means you’re suffering pain due to any medical condition. That could be anything from migraines to menstrual cramps to weltschmerz. So, it’s fairly easy for most people to identify a qualifying condition. (My own condition is insomnia…which, if I don’t sleep, gives me terrible headaches. But smoking or eating marijuana helps immeasurably!)

Once you’ve figured that out, go ahead and order an application from the Nevada Division of Public and Behavioral Health. You just need to write them a letter explaining your interest in obtaining a medical card application, and enclose a check or money order in the amount of $50 to submit with your request. In other words…it costs $50 just to get the freakin’ application.

They say you’ll get your application packet in 14-21 days. I’m pretty sure it took less than a month to get mine, so I guess they’re not lying. Once you get it in the mail, you’ll find it’s a packet of various forms that need filling out, each of which will cost you more money.

  1. You have to be fingerprinted, which depending on where you go costs around $20-$25.
  2. You need a physician’s recommendation. I have been using the office of Kathleen Smith at Ultimate U Medical; she’s a legit doctor who charges about $100 for an office visit. I have also used the services of Dr. Reefer; they are under new management, and have nothing to do with the original guy (who was way ahead of his time, and ran into legal trouble). Dr. Reefer’s office will, in fact, take care of the whole application process for you, from start to finish, for a very small premium — including fingerprinting, notarizing, and filing.
  3. Lastly, you need to have two forms notarized, which is usually around $5 per form.

Once you have all your forms completed and notarized, now you get to submit your completed packet to the Nevada State Health Division, along with another payment of $150. (NOTE: this fee is supposedly being cut in half in 2014, so after Jan. 1 the fee will only be $75.)

Now you have to wait. It can take quite some time for the state to approve your application…I think it took them a couple months for my first one. If they deny you, you’re out the initial $185 (what you spent on the app, doctor, etc)…but in my experience I don’t think they deny many people. As long as you don’t hold a Commercial Driver’s License or have any drug convictions, you’ll probably be OK.

Once you finally do receive your letter of approval, now you have to go to the DMV to get your actual card. But don’t worry!!! You have a medical condition — they give you a handicap pass, and you get to go to the front of the line 🙂 Damn straight, after paying all that cash!!!

The cost at the DMV for the actual card is around $12. They give you a temporary permit until the actual card is mailed to you (takes a week or so). And then, you’re legal! But at what cost?! Let’s do a quick cost/benefit analysis:

Total cost of card: $50 application + $100 doctor’s visit + $10 notary fees + $25 fingerprint services + $150 state fee + $12 DMV fee = $347.

That $347 is only for one year. When your card expires, you have to do it all over again, except the initial application fee and the fingerprinting. So you’re looking at around $280/year just to stay legal.

For that $280, you have the privilege of paying $60 for 1/8oz. of delivery-service weed…or of growing your own medicine, 3 plants at a time. Either way, I ask myself every year if it’s really worth it. For me personally it probably isn’t — I have lots of friends who sell pot, and I could buy it from them for cheaper anyway. And because I mostly use my meds at home, in bed, I’m not really at risk of getting busted. I can’t take it with me when traveling, anyway….so really, what’s the point?!

At one time, I felt that by getting my card and advertising my status as a medical patient, I was helping make the idea of medical marijuana more commonplace and acceptable…and hopefully paving the way for the eventual legalization of pot smoking in NV. But now, I feel like the only thing I’m really doing by getting a card is lining the state’s pockets. Fuckers!

Anyway, keep all this in mind…and good luck!