State Snippet - Nevada

“Marijuana may now be legal in Nevada, but it’s not “anything goes”.  If you plan to use marijuana it’s important to know and follow the laws.”

For a state whose most famous city is known as “Sin City”, Nevada has a not-so-progressive history with cannabis.  Having banned cannabis possession and consumption in 1923, Nevada was the only state for which possession of any amount of marijuana was a felony offense until the passage of Assembly Bill (AB) 453 in June 2001. 

Medical marijuana legalization began with the passing of the Nevada MMJ Act (Question 9) in 1998 and again in 2000; constitutional amendments require approval in consecutive elections.  By June of 2001 AB 453 had been passed, it “defelonized” possession of up to 1 ounce of cannabis for first and second-time offenders.  Progress stalled in 2002 when the Decriminalization of Marijuana Amendment (Question 9) was defeated and again in 2006 with the defeat of the Regulation of Marijuana Initiative (Question 7).  From 2002 – 2013 personal cultivation was the only means of consumption, each household could grow up to twelve plants, with the usual restrictions of not being visible from the street, being secured, etc.

Medical marijuana cardholders can possess and consume up to 2.5 ounces of flower or edibles with an equivalent amount of THC.  Nevada is a reciprocal state for MMR & MMJ cardholders from states with regulated MMJ programs and anecdotal evidence suggests that up to 50% of retail sales are from out-of-state visitors. Not surprising, but quite interesting given that hotels, casinos, vacation rentals and public areas are all off-limits to smoking.   The first medical dispensary, Euphoria Wellness, opened in 2015 and by February 2016 there were 5 labs, 8 processors and 15 dispensaries in Clark County.

In 2016 the Initiative to Regulate & Tax Marijuana (Question 2) was passed… Perhaps because it finally included the magic word, TAX.  It was legal to possess up to one ounce of cannabis as of January 1, 2017, and recreational sales began July 1, 2017.  Home cultivation is limited to those that live 25 or more from the nearest dispensary, with each adult 21+ permitted to grow up to 6 plants with a limit of 12 per household.  Excise Tax = 15% on wholesale (paid by cultivator), 10% on retail (collected & paid by retailer) in addition to standard Sales Tax applied at the local and state levels. The wholesale excise tax goes to the Nevada school system less the administrative costs to administer the program while the retail excise tax goes to the “Rainy Day Fund”, known in accounting circles as the “slush fund”.

Want to work in the cannabis industry in Nevada?  You must be 21 years or older, have no felony convictions and pass a background check to get your marijuana agent card issued by the state. 

Want to consume cannabis and work outside the cannabis industry?  You’re in luck!  Assembly Bill 132 has made it illegal for employers to rebuff applicants based on the results of a marijuana test as of January 1, 2020. It does include a very smart, and somewhat obvious, exception for those whose job could adversely affect the safety of others including public safety employees.

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In the spring of 2019 the city of Las Vegas passed an ordinance allowing cannabis consumption lounges.  It made sense, thousands of visitors pass through every year, many of whom want to purchase and consume legal cannabis.  Can’t smoke in your hotel, your rental house, your car or on The Strip.  Folks are obviously doing all of these things so having safe, regulated places to consume seems like it would be in everyone’s best interest, right? Wrong.  The state Cannabis Compliance Board, formed via AB 533, is charged with regulating, licensing and registering marijuana production and retails businesses.  The Board swooped in shortly after Las Vegas announced the opening of consumption lounges with a big NO and created an amendment in May 2019 that prohibits local governments from licensing on-site consumption until a consumption lounge study is completed and submitted to the legislature.  The earliest it could be voted on by lawmakers is January 2021. 

In the meantime, Las Vegas continues to draw thousands of visitors who come to gamble, attend elaborate shows, enjoy fine dining and yes, visit dispensaries; including Planet 13, one of the largest cannabis retailers in the US along with several Med Men locations and many small, independent shops. The first consumption lounge in California is opening later this month in West Hollywood, several others are set to follow through the fall and into the New Year.  It looks beautiful, very Southern California style.  Nothing wrong with that, but it will be exciting to see what the folks that brought us all the fountains, rides and spectacular venues of Las Vegas envision and execute consumption lounges.