By TOM RAGAN
LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL
Six inspectors and one supervisor will soon be hired to oversee dozens of expected medical marijuana dispensaries, grow houses and laboratories under Nevada’s new medical marijuana law, a state official said Thursday.
The positions are expected to be filled by March so the inspectors can begin training before the law’s regulations are finalized on April 1, said Marla McDade-Williams, deputy administrator for the state Division of Public and Behavioral Health, after a meeting of the Legislature’s Interim Finance Committee.
They will be in charge of regulating roughly 150 facilities, including the dispensaries themselves, she said.
As many as 66 dispensaries are authorized to operate in the Silver State, and some of them could be up and running as early as September if all goes according to plan, she said.
Also Thursday, Interim Finance approved nearly $364,000 in funding for the program. The committee has been guiding the creation of a medical pot staff since Senate Bill 374 was signed into law by Gov. Brian Sandoval in the spring.
In all, the state has authorized nearly $1 million for 12 permanent positions, including a manager to oversee the medical marijuana office, a coordinator, a communications specialist and a pair of administrators, according to McDade-Williams.
Other positions expected to be filled on a contract basis will include those in charge of reviewing the scores of applications that are expected to start rolling in as early as the summer, she said.
McDade-Williams said she thought the number of inspectors was sufficient, given the fact that 50 inspectors now oversee nearly 1,200 medical facilities in the state, from nursing homes to hospices to hospitals.
“A worst-case scenario is if we’ve completely underestimated the demand for the medicine,” she said after the meeting in the Sawyer Building. “But right now, I’m just excited that we’ve got the funding and we can finally move forward with hiring people.”
She said she expects to start advertising the positions in a couple of weeks.
Among the jobs’ duties are making sure no plants leave the premises and making sure every dispensary has 24-hour security to prevent burglaries.
“We don’t want it entering the illegal market,” she said of the medical weed.
Applicants must have an environmental health background and experience in the inspection of other state facilities.
A few Republican Assembly members had questions for McDade-Williams during her 15-minute pitch on the importance of the funding. One of them was Assemblyman Cresent Hardy of Mesquite:
If medical marijuana patients can’t find a dispensary within 25 miles from where they live, will they be allowed to grow their own medication?
Yes, she said.
“But they’re only allowed to have 12 plants,” she added.