Medical marijuana a good thing for Nevada, North Tahoe | SierraSun.com

Medical marijuana a good thing for Nevada, North Tahoe

While Election Day was Tuesday, and deservedly so was the big-ticket news item of the day (look for local results at tahoedailytribune.com, or in Thursday's paper), it also turned out to be quite an interesting day for business news in Truckee and the North Shore of Lake Tahoe.

In a one-hour span Tuesday morning on our website, we published a story about the reopening of Donner Lake Kitchen after it shuttered in February 2011 due to ADA-lawsuit challenges; a human interest piece on the locals behind the revitalization of Tahoe City's movie theater; and an item on Reno-Tahoe International Airport's ski resort- and gaming industry-aided deal to book nonstop flights to London.

Several different angles of intrigue, no doubt. In particular, it will be interesting to see how the London-Reno deal pans out (PS, editor's tip — look for a lot more behind this story next week).

But another business story that also published in that same span that you read about in this print edition involves Incline Village, and the odds of at least one — and perhaps more — medical marijuana dispensaries earning provisional approval from the state of Nevada to open up shop.

Of course, it's just one rung on the ladder — the companies that moved onto the next round have to apply through their respective counties (in Incline's case, Washoe) for a proper business license, and gain final approval, so it's nowhere near a slam-dunk, and it'll likely be a few months before the community knows for sure.

Regardless, I'm glad to see the possibility of having medicine available on the North Shore (with the potential for California cards to be accepted) for people who need it becoming a larger topic of discussion.

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While California for years has allowed medical marijuana (and for the most part, is fine with recreational use, considering one can get busted with an ounce of pot and pay a fine less severe than a speeding ticket), it's not necessarily easy for Truckee or North Shore patients to get it legally, considering no dispensaries exist here, based on town and county zoning laws.

But Nevada has been really far behind the times, having only gotten to this point months ago (ironically, near its 150th birthday) to come up with a legal way to obtain the drug without patients having to grow it themselves.

For a state that prides its history and grand economic growth throughout the 20th century on a foundation based on the legalization of gambling and prostitution (and heck, throw in 24/7 booze while we're at it), it has always flat-out amazed me that the Silver State has been so far out of the loop with legalizing medical marijuana.

Tongue-in-cheek aside, this is a good thing, both for Nevada and North Lake Tahoe. Despite some of the commentary we still hear these days that smacks of quotes heard in the ridiculous 1936 exploit film "Reeder Madness," there are plenty of our neighbors who are prescribed the drug to help endure pain and disease.

Setting the wheels in motion for easier access to medicine for these people seems like a win-win to me.

Now, I just hope that as things come closer to approval, political and special interests can be set aside for the sake of the patients who stand the most to gain.

Kevin MacMillan is managing editor of the Sierra Sun and North Lake Tahoe Bonanza. Reach him for comment at kmacmillan@sierrasun.com.