JOHN DOE, ON HIS OWN BEHALF AND ON BEHALF OF A CLASS OF THOSE SIMILARILY SITUATED, Appellant,
STATE OF NEVADA EX REL. THE LEGISLATURE OF THE 77TH SESSION OF THE STATE OF NEVADA; THE STATE OF NEVADA DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES; AND THE HONORABLE BRIAN SANDOVAL, IN HIS OFFICAL CAPACITY AS GOVERNOR OF THE STATE OF NEVADA, Respondents.
from a district court summary judgment in an action regarding
Nevada's medical marijuana laws. Eighth Judicial District
Court, Clark County; Rob Bare, Judge.
Law and Jacob L. Hafter, Las Vegas, for Appellant.
Legislative Counsel Bureau Legal Division and Brenda J.
Erdoes, Legislative Counsel, and Kevin C. Powers, Chief
Litigation Counsel, Carson City, for Respondent State of
Nevada ex rel. the Legislature of the State of Nevada.
Paul Laxalt, Attorney General, Jordan T. Smith, Assistant
Solicitor General, and Linda C. Anderson and Gregory L.
Zunino, Chief Deputy Attorneys General, Carson City, for
Respondents State of Nevada Department of Health and Human
Services and Governor of the State of Nevada.
November 2000, the Nevada Constitution was amended to allow
the possession and use of marijuana for the treatment or
alleviation of various medical conditions. See Nev.
Const, art. 4, § 38(1)(a). This amendment also required
the Legislature to establish a registry of patients who were
authorized to use marijuana for medical purposes.
Id. § 38(1)(d). As a result, the Legislature
enacted Assembly Bill 453, allowing registry identification
cardholders to use medical marijuana without fear of state
prosecution for certain marijuana-related
offenses. Subsequently, the Legislature established
two fees to defray the costs of administering the
registration program: an application fee and a processing
appeal, we are asked to determine whether Nevada's
medical marijuana registry violates the Due Process, Equal
Protection, or Self-incrimination Clauses of the United
States or Nevada Constitutions. We hold Nevada's medical
marijuana registry does not impinge upon a fundamental right,
and the registry is rationally related to a legitimate state
interest. Thus, we hold Nevada's medical marijuana
registry does not violate the Due Process or Equal Protection
Clauses. Finally, we hold Nevada's medical marijuana
registry does not violate a registrant's right against
self-incrimination. Therefore, we affirm the district
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
2015, appellant John Doe applied for, and received, a
registry identification card after his doctor recommended he
try medical marijuana to treat his migraine headaches. Doe
subsequently filed suit against the Nevada Legislature, the
Governor, and the Department of Health and Human Services
(the DHHS) (collectively, respondents). In particular, Doe
argued that the medical marijuana registry and its associated
fees violated his due process and equal protection rights,
and his right against self-incrimination. Doe also argued
that the DHHS committed fraud and was unjustly enriched by
the registration fees.
filed a motion for partial summary judgment on his
self-incrimination claim and a countermotion for summary
judgment on his due process and equal protection claims. The
DHHS and the Governor filed motions to dismiss, and the
Legislature filed a motion for summary judgment. Ultimately,
the district court granted the respondents' motions,
treating each as a motion for summary judgment. Specifically,
the district court held that Doe failed to sue the proper
state official-the Administrator of the Division of Public
and Behavioral Health-for declaratory and injunctive relief.
In addition, the district court denied Doe's request to
amend his complaint, holding that such an amendment would be
futile because Doe's constitutional claims lacked merit.
Finally, the district court held that Doe's state-law
tort claims were barred as a matter of law due to the
State's sovereign immunity. Doe appealed.
appeal, Doe argues (1) there is a fundamental right to access
the health care recommended by licensed physicians under the
Due Process Clause, (2) Nevada's medical marijuana
registry violates that right under the Equal Protection
Clause, and (3) the registry violates a registrant's
Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination.
"This court reviews constitutional challenges de
novo." Rico v. Rodriguez, 121 Nev. 695, 702,
120 P.3d 812, 817 (2005). Nevada's medical marijuana
registry does not impinge upon a fundamental right
argues that this court should recognize a new fundamental
right to access the health care that a physician recommends
to a patient, and that the registry and its associated fees
impose an undue burden on a patient's ability to exercise
this right. Respondents argue that Doe's asserted right
is more accurately understood as a right to use medical
marijuana and that no such fundamental right exists.
Process Clauses of the United States and Nevada Constitutions
prohibit the State from depriving "any person of life,
liberty, or property, without due process of law." U.S.
Const, amend. XIV, § 1; Nev. Const, art. 1, § 8(5).
The United States Supreme Court has clarified that
"[t]he Due Process Clause guarantees more than fair
process, and the liberty it protects includes more ...