Nevada Marijuana Laws

Key Points

  • Marijuana is legal for medical and recreational use in Nevada
  • The legal age to smoke or buy marijuana is 21 for adult use and 18 for medical use
  • It is legal to possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana for recreational or medical use in Nevada
  • It is legal to grow up to six marijuana plants at home
  • There are penalties for the unlawful sale, possession, cultivation, and delivery of marijuana in Nevada

Is Marijuana Legal in Nevada?

Yes. Marijuana is legal for recreational and medical use in Nevada. The Cannabis Compliance Board (CCB) regulates the recreational and adult use of marijuana. The possession, purchase, and use of recreational marijuana became legal on January 1, 2017, after Nevada voters voted in favor of the Initiative to Regulate and Tax Marijuana in 2016. Consumers can buy marijuana legally in Nevada only from state-licensed dispensaries.

A medical marijuana cardholder registered with the Division of Public and Behavioral Health (DPBH) with qualifying medical conditions can legally possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana. Medical marijuana patients are exempted from the 10% sales tax that adult marijuana users pay.

Federally, marijuana is a Schedule 1 Drug under the Controlled Substance Act of 1970 and remains illegal. Hence, the possession, distribution, trafficking, or sale of marijuana is prohibited on any federal property in Nevada. It is also illegal to use marijuana in public or in a motor vehicle.

Nevada Marijuana Laws in 2024

Medical and recreational marijuana is legal in Nevada. Medical marijuana became legal in Nevada in 2000. Individuals with certain medical conditions, such as anxiety, cancer, glaucoma, HIV, seizures, autism, and chronic pain may possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana every 14 days. They can also cultivate up to 12 marijuana plants. However, marijuana cultivation is prohibited for patients living within 25 miles of a licensed dispensary. Qualifying patients must register with the DPBH and obtain a medical marijuana card. Medical marijuana approved by the DPBH includes concentrates, topicals, edibles, and flowers.

In November 2016, 55% of Nevadans voted in favor of Question 2, which sought to legalize, regulate and tax recreational marijuana for persons aged 21 or older. Adults may possess a limited amount of marijuana and can only purchase the same from state-approved retail stores. Recreational cannabis became legal in Nevada on January 1, 2017 and the first licensed sale occurred in the state on July 1, 2017. Adults could only buy and possess up to 1 oz. of cannabis flower and one-eighth of an ounce of cannabis concentrate when recreational marijuana sales started in Nevada. However, in 2023, Governor Joe Lombardo signed Senate Bill 277 to raise these limits for adult-use cannabis. The new limits, expected to take effect on January 1, 2024, are 2.5 ounces of cannabis flower and one-quarter of an ounce of concentrate.

In June 2021, Governor Steve Sisilak signed Assembly Bill 341 into law, permitting the licensing and regulation of cannabis consumption lounges. The law approves the purchase and public consumption of marijuana at designated marijuana lounges. In 2022, the CCB approved regulations for the licensing and operations of marijuana consumption lounges and issued the first cannabis consumption license in December 2022. The first marijuana consumption lounge in Nevada became operational in 2023.

Timeline of Сannabis Law in Nevada

The timeline for Nevads’s cannabis legislations is as follows:

  • 1965: Nevada amended chapter 453 of the Nevada Revised Statutes (NRA). Assembly Bill 519 prohibits the intentional cultivating, harvesting, and processing of marijuana and sets penalties for violation
  • 1977: An attempt to reduce the penalties for possessing small amounts of marijuana through Assembly Bill 253. The bill failed at the Assembly Committee on Judiciary
  • 1979: Nevada established a program to research the therapeutic effect of marijuana on cancer and glaucoma patients through Senate Bill 470
  • 2000: Nevadans voted in favor of medical marijuana in 1998 and 2000, and Section 38 was added to Article 4 of the Nevada Constitution. It permitted the use of cannabis plants for alleviating the symptoms of some debilitating medical conditions
  • 2001: Nevada decriminalized marijuana through Assembly Bill 453
  • 2013: Governor Brian Sandoval signed Senate Bill 374 into law. The bill expatiates on the medical marijuana program and imposes an excise tax on each sale of marijuana products
  • 2016: 55% of Nevada voters voted in favor of Question 2 on the ballot, which legalized and now, regulates and tax marijuana
  • 2017: The possession, purchase, and consumption of recreational marijuana became legal for persons 21 and older on January 1st, 2017. The first legal sale commenced on July 1st
  • 2019: Assembly Bill 192, signed into law, establishes a procedure for sealing certain prior marijuana convictions where the offenses haves been decriminalized in the state
  • 2021: Governor Steve Sisolak signed Assembly Bill 341 into law. The bill legalized marijuana consumption lounges in Nevada and mandates the CCB to license and regulate marijuana consumption lounges statewide
  • 2023: Governor Joe Lombardo signed Senate Bill 277 into law raising the possession limits of adult-use cannabis to 2.5 ounces (from 1 ounce) for cannabis flower and ¼ ounce (from ⅛ ounce) of concentrate from January 1, 2024

Federal Legalization of Weed in 2024

Introduced and passed in the House, the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act (MORE) aims to decriminalize marijuana and remove it from the list of Schedule 1 Drugs. It seeks to eliminate criminal penalties for the possession, manufacture, and distribution of marijuana. Additionally, the bill seeks to make the following changes:

  • Replace all reference to marijuana with cannabis
  • Access to federal public benefits for persons with certain cannabis-related convictions
  • Impose an occupational tax on cannabis production facilities and an excise tax on cannabis produced or imported into the U.S.
  • Create a trust fund to support initiatives and programs targeted at communities, businesses, and individuals affected by the war on drugs
  • Make accessible loans and other related services to licensed cannabis businesses through the Small Business Administration
  • Provide protection under immigration laws for persons with certain cannabis-related convictions or conduct
  • Expunge conduct sentencing and convictions for some federal cannabis offenses
  • Implement new techniques to determine if a motorist is impaired by marijuana

Can I Use Cannabis in Nevada?

Yes. Cannabis is legal for recreational and medical use in Nevada. Individuals aged 21 or older can legally buy and use 2.5 ounces of cannabis flower for recreational use. Nevada residents aged 18 or older who are registered cannabis patients may have up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana for medical use. Minors older than 10 may also obtain and use medical marijuana through designated primary caregivers.

The migration of Mexicans into the U.S. due to the Mexican Revolution in 1910 heightened fears about marijuana. States began to make marijuana illegal, with Nevada outlawing marijuana in 1917. By the 1930s, the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, led by Harry Anslinger, sought a federal ban on the drug, and by 1937, the Marihuana Tax Act was born. The Act made marijuana illegal throughout the U.S. However, by the late ’70s, most states began relaxing their marijuana laws.

Notwithstanding the legality of marijuana in Nevada, it is illegal for minors under the age of 21 to use cannabis recreationally. Public consumption of marijuana is also unlawful in Nevada.

How the Legal Sale of Cannabis in Nevada Happens

In Nevada, only licensed retail stores may sell cannabis to qualified persons. Individuals aged 21 or older may purchase marijuana for recreational use from any licensed marijuana dispensary across Nevada. Persons, aged at least 18, and living with qualifying medical conditions may purchase medical marijuana after obtaining their medical marijuana cards from the DPBH.

All marijuana-derived products are legal for sale in Nevada. Residents may purchase prerolls, CBD, topicals, flowers, extracts, and edibles for recreational and medical use. However, before a sale transaction is completed, the dispensary must request to see a customer’s valid government-issued ID to verify their age.

Penalties for Marijuana-related crimes in Nevada

In Nevasa, it is legal for persons 21 and older to possess up to an ounce of marijuana. However, possession of marijuana above the legal limit is subject to criminal penalties under state law as follows.

  • First Offense: A first-time marijuana possession offender caught with over 2.5 ounce of marijuana commits a misdemeanor offense that attracts a fine of $600
  • Second Offense: The offender pays a fine of up to $1,000 and may be assigned to a drug rehabilitation program
  • Third Offense: A third-time offense is a gross misconduct, and the offender pays a fine not exceeding $2,000
  • Subsequent Offense: It is a felony with a penalty of 1 - 4 years incarceration and fines up to $5,000
  • Public Use: Consumption of marijuana in public is a misdemeanor punishable by a $600 fine

In Nevada, only licensed dispensaries can sell marijuana. Therefore, possession of marijuana with intent to distribute is a felony, treated as the illegal sale of marijuana. Possession with intent to distribute attracts the following penalties:

  • First Offense: The offense is punishable by incarceration up to 4 years, with a one-year mandatory minimum sentence. There are also fines of $5,000. However, the court may grant a suspended sentence and probation
  • Second Offense: A second offense for possession with intent to distribute marijuana attracts a jail sentence between 1 - 5 years and fines not exceeding $10,000. There is no option for probation or a suspended sentence
  • Subsequent Offense: The offender gets incarcerated for 3 - 15 years. In addition, the judge may impose fines up to $20,000 with no possibility of probation or sentence suspension

The sale of marijuana outside a licensed dispensary in Nevada is a felony crime. The penalties for the unlawful sale of marijuana are:

  • First Offense: The penalty is a jail sentence of up to 4 years with a 12-month mandatory minimum sentence. In addition, the court may impose a fine not exceeding $5,000
  • Second Offense: A second-time conviction for the illegal sales of marijuana attracts a 2 - 10 years jail term with fines up to $20,000
  • Subsequent Offense: The offender gets incarcerated in a state prison for 3 - 15 years. Further penalty may include a fine of up to $20,000

Persons aged 21 or older can legally cultivate up to 6 plants of marijuana at home and 12 plants per household if they live more than 25 miles from a marijuana dispensary. Cultivation of marijuana above the legal limit is a felony and attracts the following penalties:

  • Above 12 plants: The offender gets a jail sentence of up to four years with one year of the sentence mandatory. The court may also impose a fine of $5,000
  • 100 - 2,000 pounds: Cultivating up to 2,000 pounds of marijuana attracts a jail term of 1 - 5 years and a fine of not more than $25,000
  • 2,000 - 10,000 pounds: The cultivation of 10,000 pounds of marijuana is a felony crime with 2 - 10 years of incarceration. There may also be a fine not exceeding $50,000
  • Above 10,000 pounds: Cultivating above 10,000 pounds of marijuana attracts life imprisonment. There is a mandatory minimum sentence of 5 years. The judge may also impose a fine of up to $200,000

Only licensed marijuana dispensaries are authorized to sell marijuana paraphernalia to adults in Nevada. Persons who sell, deliver, possess, or manufacture marijuana paraphernalia commit a felony. The penalty is incarceration for 1 - 4 years and a fine not exceeding $5,000.

Marijuana consumption on a federal property, building, or national park within Nevada is an offense. The penalty for the public consumption of marijuana is a $600 fine.

Driving under the influence of marijuana in Nevada is illegal. The legal implications for marijuana DUI offenses in the state include the following:

  • First Offense: A first-time DUI offender gets a minimum of 2 days incarceration but not more than six days. In addition, the court mandates the offender to complete a course on controlled substance abuse and pay a fine between $400 and $1,000
  • Second Offense: A second-time marijuana DUI offender faces jail sentence for a minimum of ten days but no more than six months or community service for a predetermined period in place of the sentence. The offender pays a fine of not more than $1,000 but no less than $750 and must attend a substance abuse treatment program
  • Subsequent Offense: A third and subsequent marijuana DUI offense is a felony. The offender gets a jail sentence of 1 - 6 years and pays a fine between $2,000 and $5,000

Other penalties imposed on marijuana DUI offenders in Nevada include:

  • Drivers license seizure or revocation
  • A civil penalty of $35 and a $60 fee to cover the cost of chemical analysis
  • Suspension of registration for each vehicle registered or owned by the offender
  • Attending a meeting with a panel of DUI victims and providing evidence of attendance to the court
  • Installation of an ignition interlock device

In Nevada, any property used or intended for illegal use in the manufacturing, dispensing, or distribution of marijuana is subject to forfeiture upon conviction. Also, all assets used or planned for use in the conveyance and transportation of marijuana for the illegal sales of marijuana are subject to confiscation on conviction.

Possible Remedies for Defendants of Violating Nevada Marijuana Laws

An individual who violates Nevada marijuana laws can remedy the situation by employing the services of an attorney.

What is Nevada’s Cannabis History?

Nevada outlawed marijuana in 1917, making marijuana illegal to possess without a prescription. By 1923, the state recommended penalties for the possession of marijuana. In 1965, Nevada amended its existing laws to include penalties for the planting, cultivation, and processing of marijuana through Assembly Bill 519. In 1975 and 1977, Assembly Bill 285 and 253 attempted to reduce the penalties for marijuana possession, but both bills were unsuccessful.

In 1979, Senate Bill 471 established a committee to research the therapeutic benefits of marijuana on patients with cancer and glaucoma. By the 1980s, Nevada authorized several marijuana laws imposing penalties and taxes on illegal marijuana. For instance, Senate Bill 7 provided penalties for the trafficking of marijuana. Assembly Bill 628 imposed civil penalties for the unlawful possession and sale of marijuana, and Senate Bill 144, signed into law in '87, enforced taxation for marijuana sold illegally.

However, in the 1998 and 2000 elections, 59% and 65% of Nevadans voted to legalize marijuana for medical use. The constitutional amendment permitted persons evaluated by a physician and eligible to participate in the program to obtain a medical marijuana card to access up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis. The state expanded the medical marijuana program in 2013 through Senate Bill 374.

Nevada attempted to legalize marijuana for recreational use through Initiative Petition 3 in 2005. However, in 2016, Nevadans voted in favor of question 2 on the ballot, legalizing recreational marijuana, and by January 1st, 2017, marijuana became legal to purchase, possess, and consume by persons 21 and older. In 2021, Assembly Bill 341 was passed into law, permitting the public consumption of marijuana at licensed marijuana consumption lounges.

What are Restrictions on Cannabis in Nevada?

Recreational and medical marijuana is legal in Nevada. However, the state still has restrictions on marijuana use, procurement, possession, and cultivation. They include:

  • Public consumption of marijuana is permitted only in licensed marijuana consumption lounges
  • It is illegal for a marijuana user in Nevada to possess firearms
  • It is prohibited to consume marijuana in a hotel room or casino in Nevada
  • Only persons aged 21 or older may purchase marijuana for recreational use
  • Only state-licensed dispensary can sell marijuana in Nevada
  • Consuming marijuana on federal property is an offense
  • Cultivating marijuana is legal for medical marijuana patients on the condition the cultivator resides 25 miles from a licensed dispensary
  • It is illegal for recreational users to cultivate marijuana
  • It is illegal for a driver or passenger to consume marijuana in a vehicle
  • Edible cannabis package must not contain images or character appealing to a minor
  • It is illegal to transport marijuana across states lines
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