just got this scoop from the norml mailing list..
Nevada Defelonizes Pot Possession
State Eliminates Jail, Criminal Record for Minor Offenders;
Legalizes Medical Marijuana for Seriously Ill
Carson City, NV: State legislators overwhelmingly approved
legislation this week to dramatically reduce Nevada's
toughest-in-the-nation marijuana law and authorize pot's
medical use. Nevada's legislature is the first in 24 years
to eliminate jail time and criminal records for minor
marijuana offenders, and the ninth state since 1996 to
legalize the use of medical marijuana under a doctor's
"Assembly Bill 453 was crafted to do three things," said
sponsor Christina Giunchigliani (D-Las Vegas). "Implement
the will of the people; provide compassionate medical aid
to the chronically ill, and establish a rational drug policy
focused on treatment - not jail."
Giunchigliani's proposal, which now awaits action by
Gov. Kenny Guinn (R), reduces penalties for the possession
of up to one ounce of marijuana from a felony (punishable
by up to four years in jail) to a fine-only misdemeanor
for first and second-time offenders. No criminal record
shall be imposed on offenders until their third offense.
Eleven states have similar marijuana decriminalization laws.
Nevada is the only state that currently defines first-time
possession of even one marijuana cigarette as a felony offense.
Assembly Bill 453 also legalizes the use of medical marijuana
by patients who have their physician's approval to use it.
State voters approved a constitutional amendment in 1998 and
2000 mandating the legislature to legalize the use of medicinal
marijuana. Giunchigliani's bill allows qualified patients to
grow up to seven marijuana plants for medical purposes and
establishes a confidential patient registry. Additionally,
it allows patients who possess amounts greater than those
specified by law to raise an affirmative defense of medical
necessity before a jury.
"The State of Nevada, as a sovereign state, has the duty
to carry out the will of the people of this state and regulate
the health, medical practices and well-being of those people
in a manner that respects their personal decisions concerning
the relief of suffering through the medical use of marijuana,"
legislators affirmed in the measure's preamble.
A separate provision added to the bill requires the Nevada
School of Medicine to "aggressively" seek federal approval to
implement a medical marijuana distribution program in which
both marijuana and marijuana seeds would be made available to
Governor Guinn has ten days to sign the bill, which will
take effect October 1, 2001.
For more information, please contact Keith Stroup, NORML
Executive Director, or Paul Armentano at (202) 483-5500.