Comp and Cannabis: NV Grows into a Dual Med/Rec Use State after a Slightly Rough Start


By Dara Barney

This is the next article in's “Comp and Cannabis” series, as Editor Dara Barney explores medical marijuana legislation state-by-state, and what it means regarding workers' compensation.


Carson City, NV ( - Nevada seems to have come a long way since the summer of 2017, when the sale of recreational marijuana began and thousands of people flocked to dispensary doors. Customers were told product was limited, according to Salon and the Los Angeles Times. A “state of emergency” was declared, and the Nevada Dept. of Taxation said it was possible the industry would come to a grinding “halt” due to lack of supply and high demand. But, fast forward to the winter of 2017, and greener pastures seem to be in the picture. 

As of August 2017, Nevada housed 60 medical marijuana dispensaries, and 58 recreational retail stores (also known as dispensaries). Cultivation establishments were at about 90 apiece as well, according to Stephanie Klapstein, Public Information Officer for the Nevada Dept. of Taxation.

“…recreational marijuana passed in Nevada in the Nov. 2016 election. The ballot initiative gave the Department of Taxation responsibility for regulating the new recreational industry, including licensing and the ongoing regulation of recreational cultivators, product manufacturers, testing labs, distributors, and retail stores,” she said via email. “During the 2017 state legislative session, a bill passed that moved the medical marijuana program to Taxation so all regulatory activities would be under one agency. Beginning July 1 of this year, we absorbed the medical marijuana program, and both programs are housed under our ‘marijuana enforcement division.’ The Department is responsible for certifying/licensing, inspecting, auditing, and educating all licensees.”

Currently, all recreational dispensaries have to carry medical registration as well, called dual licensees, she said, with some specific exceptions. “The next steps for us are to have our permanent regulations adopted for recreational, and continue to mesh the medical and recreational programs.”

But patient medical marijuana registry is actually on the decline, according to Martha Framsted, Public Information Officer for the Nevada Dept. of Health and Human Services.

“The Division is seeing a decline in applications and renewals within the patient registry since July 1, 2017. There may be a need to reevaluate the Medical Marijuana Program in the 2019 legislative session if the number of patients are not sufficient to pay for the administration of the program,” she said.

The Division regulates the Medical Marijuana Patient Registry, and manages education/abuse assistance from a public health angle.

But what does this mean for injured workers?

Klapstein also talked about an educational website created by the Dept. of Taxation that mentions the workplace (public and private) and the fact that employers aren’t prohibited from having restrictive policies regarding recreational use, according to the law.

“The legalization of marijuana use (medical and adult use) does not exempt employees from the policies of their employer,” Framsted said.

Although medical marijuana is outside the scope of the state’s Dept. of Industrial Relations - Workers’ Comp Section (DIR/WCS), RN Katherine Godwin, Supervisor of Medical/Benefit Penalty Units, said the organization is a “neutral party” as far as a stance on medical marijuana.

“DIR/WCS does not adjust claims and the DIR/WCS does not recommend specific drugs to be included in drug formularies for insurers or self-insured entities,” she said, when asked if any reimbursement requests for injured workers and medical marijuana treatment had come up.

“The Division has not been provided any data on the frequency for medical marijuana requests in place of opiates. Insurance reimbursement does not exist at this time,” Framsted said of the Dept. of Health and Human Services. 

“…regarding the responsibilities or roles the Division has in medical marijuana, if and when insurers file their policy forms/endorsements related to medical marijuana for P&C insurance coverage, the Division would review those policies under prior approval requirements. If somehow there was a personal lines product we would also review rates under prior approval requirements, but nothing of that sort has been filed with the Division,” said Yeraldin Deavila Public Information Officer for the Nevada Division of Insurance.

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