Nevada’s agricultural boss concerned with medical marijuana

By Scott Sonner Associated Press Writer
Tuesday September 11, 2001

RENO, Nev. (AP) — As Nevada’s top agricultural official, Paul Iverson is in charge of everything from pesticides and predator control to weeds and wild horses. 

But Iverson admits he’s a bit apprehensive about moving from his already varied domain of livestock brands and African honey bees to another, more daunting role — the state’s chief enforcer of a new medical marijuana law. 

Iverson raised his concerns while listing his many jurisdictions in an address to the Nevada Indian Agriculture and Environmental Summit, which convened last week in Reno. 

In the six years he’s had the job since transferring from the Department of Minerals, Iverson said he’s been especially perplexed by his oversight of petroleum weights and measurements at gasoline stations. 

“You ask me why it’s in the Agriculture Department? I don’t know,” said Iverson, administrator of the Nevada Department of Agriculture. 

“I wonder why I just inherited the medical marijuana law. I get to decide who can dole out medical marijuana,” he said. 

Nevada will become the ninth state to offer a state-run medical marijuana program effective Oct. 1. The Board of Agriculture approved the new regulations last week allowing physician-approved patients to grow and use the drug. 

The state Department of Agriculture will oversee the program, which allows people who suffer from AIDS, cancer, glaucoma, muscular dystrophy, seizures or severe nausea to obtain a doctor’s signature to register. 

They will be allowed to have up to three mature marijuana plants and four immature plants at one time to be used for medicinal purposes. Also, they can only possess up to an ounce at a time. 

Members of the Board of Agriculture, among others, expressed misgivings about the program. They worried about possible abuses of marijuana and trying to administer the program since the Legislature provided no additional money for it. 

“I’m glad I’ve got 31 years in with the state because I’m not so sure how long my future will last,” Iverson said with a laugh.