Nevada recreational marijuana laws
Current legality status
Cannabis in Nevada is classified as a legal, recreational-use substance for adult consumption.
Nevada made the jump from being a medical marijuana state to full adult use legalization state when they passed Question 2 in 2016, which went into effect on January 1st 2017. The success of Question 2 built off a failed attempt to legalize cannabis in 2006, another in 2002, and 2001’s AB 453, which defelonized cannabis possession and expanded the medical marijuana system created by Question 9 (more on that below). Adults over 21 in Nevada are now allowed to possess up to one ounce of usable marijuana and 3.5 grams of cannabis concentrate.
Every state that has legalized cannabis has done it a little differently, and in Nevada, that has meant looking at their regulation of the gaming industry as a model, as well as including the alcohol industry in the distribution of cannabis. Nevada has also pioneered the drive-through dispensary, with the first in the country opening in Las Vegas in late 2017. Now, it looks like Clark County, Nevada, is on the verge of approving drive-through dispensaries after seeing the success of the model in Las Vegas.
In addition to Question 2, adult consumers of cannabis should look to the Nevada Revised Statute: Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana, and to the Nevada Administrative Code: Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana for guidance.
Nevada medical marijuana laws
Medical marijuana was first legalized in Nevada in 2000 when Question 9 was passed on its second round of voting. In Nevada, constitutional amendments need two consecutive majority votes to pass, and Question 9 got 59%, then an impressive 65% of the vote. Like California’s Prop 215 from 1996, Question 9 was more of a foundation for legalization to be built upon, rather than a fully fleshed out legalized, regulated, and taxed cannabis industry.
The biggest differences between medical cannabis patients and adult consumers in Nevada are the amount of cannabis they can legally possess and grow. While adult consumers are only allowed to possess up to one ounce of usable marijuana and 3.5 grams of cannabis concentrate, medical marijuana patients can possess up to 2.5 ounces. For both medical and adult consumers, those convicted of possession beyond their legal limit are looking at a misdemeanor and up to a $600 fine for their first offense, and a misdemeanor with a $1,000 fine for their second offense.
Beyond Question 9, patients seeking guidance on medical cannabis in Nevada can look to the Nevada Revised Statute: Medical Use of Marijuana and the Nevada Administrative Code: Medical Use of Marijuana.
Nevada qualifying conditions for medical marijuana
Since Nevada has legalized cannabis use by all adults over 21, many would-be patients now do not need to go through the process of getting a medical card, and can instead buy their medicine from an adult use dispensary. For would-be patients under 21, medical cannabis remains your only option for legal cannabis use in Nevada.
While Nevada has a remarkably short list of conditions that can qualify a patient to use medical cannabis, like California, they have a major caveat which makes the qualifying condition list moot. Specifically, Nevada will allow someone to become a cannabis patient if they have “Any other chronic or debilitating medical condition” which a physician feels may be improved by using cannabis.
Qualifying conditions to become a medical marijuana patient in Nevada include:
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- A medical condition or treatment for a medical condition that produces, for a specific patient, one or more of the following:
- Persistent muscle spasms (including multiple sclerosis)
- Seizures, including seizures caused by epilepsy
- Severe nausea
- Severe pain
- Any other chronic or debilitating medical condition that, in the professional judgment of a physician, might be helped by the use of medical cannabis
How to get a medical marijuana card in Nevada
The first step in becoming a medical cannabis patient in Nevada is to
- Create a login for the Online Cardholder Registry and submit an application to the Nevada Medical Marijuana Cardholder Registry. So far, there are no fees.
- Fill out and submit an Application Request form, and a Caregiver Application if you plan to have a caregiver, to the Division of Public and Behavioral Health (DPBH) along with a photo of the front and back of your Nevada state ID, as well as a $25 application fee.
- Once you receive your application, you will need to fill it out and send it back to the DPBH. The application will include written documentation from the patient’s attending doctor which states the patient’s qualifying condition, that the use of medical marijuana will help them, that they have explained the risks to their patient, their contact information, the patient’s proof of residency in Nevada, and the patient’s name, address, telephone number, social security number and date of birth. Unlike Arizona, who allows a wide range of physicians to recommend cannabis, Nevada only allows physicians who are a Doctor of Medicine (MD) or Doctor of Osteopathy to recommend cannabis to their patients. The application will also include the caregiver application, if the patient chooses to elect a caregiver. The caregiver application will include a written and signed statement from the patient’s doctor approving of the caregiver as well as the caregiver’s name, address, telephone number, and social security number.
- There is a $75 processing fee to submit this application.
You can get more information on the DPBH’s Medical Marijuana Patient Cardholder Registry Homepage and their Medical Marijuana Patient Cardholder Registry FAQs. Since not all doctors may be comfortable recommending medical cannabis to their patients, you can use Leafly’s doctor finder to look for one in your area.
Does Nevada accept out-of-state medical cards?
Yes. While Nevada’s adult use legalization means that you no longer need to have a medical cannabis card to buy marijuana there, having one can be helpful as they are still recognized and grant you greater protections than someone without a medical card.
Nevada has a well-developed system of medical reciprocity where people with out-of-state cards aren’t just allowed to possess cannabis, but can buy it from Nevada dispensaries, so long as they present a valid out-of-state medical cannabis card.
When does my Nevada medical card expire?
Medical cannabis cards in Nevada are good for just one year from the date they were issued.
Nevada marijuana growing laws
Like their neighbors in Arizona, cannabis cultivation is only allowed in Nevada if patients or adult consumers live over 25 miles from their closest dispensary. Nevada’s statute appears to uphold the right of patients to continue growing if a dispensary opens closer to their home, so long as when they began cultivating there no dispensary was within 25 miles of them.
The biggest difference between cultivation for medical patients and other adult cannabis consumers is the number of plants they can grow. Medical marijuana patients are allowed to cultivate up to 12 plants (mature and immature), while non-medical consumers are limited to six plants per person (up to 12 per household). All cultivation must not be visible from a public place and must take place “within a closet, room, greenhouse, or other enclosed area that is equipped with a lock or other security device.”
Nevada public consumption laws
While having a medical cannabis card does allow patients to grow and possess more cannabis than other adults, it does not allow them to legally consume it in public places or places exposed to public view. Additionally, marijuana cannot legally be possessed in any jail, prison, or correctional facility. Those convicted of public consumption are looking at a misdemeanor and up to a $600 fine for their first offense, and a misdemeanor with a $1,000 fine for their second offense.
Nevada cannabis DUI laws
Like in any other state in the US, it is illegal for someone to drive in Nevada if they are intoxicated on a substance above the legally established limit, including alcohol and cannabis. Even medical cannabis patients can get DUIs, and having a medical card is not a defense against a DUI charge. Any driver in Nevada has implied consent to submit to a chemical test, and a refusal to submit to this test deems that refusal admissible in any criminal or administrative investigation as evidence.
Testing methods include blood and/or urine.
|(g) Marijuana||10 ng/mL||2 ng/mL|
|(h) Marijuana metabolite||15 ng/mL||5 ng/mL|
- First offense (within seven years): Between two days and up to six months in jail, $400 to $1,000 fine, 48 to 96 hours of community service; must pay for and participate in an education course on the abuse of alcohol and controlled substances within the time specified.
- Second offense (within seven years): Between 10 days and up to six months in jail or between 10 days and up to six months on house arrest, $750 to $1,000 fine or the equivalent number of community service hours; court may order participation in a program for the treatment of alcohol and drugs.
- Third and subsequent offenses (within seven years): Category B felony; between one year and up to six years in prison, during which they shall be segregated from violent offenders in a minimum-security facility; $2,000 to $5,000 fine.
There are currently efforts underway in Nevada to change the state’s “per se” testing limit to a new standard that is more scientifically accurate and fairer to cannabis patients who are likely to test above the limit yet not be impaired.
For more information, please refer to Nev. Rev. Stat. Chapter 484C.
Nevada cannabis testing regulations
While labs there do not have to be ISO certified (like labs in California), Nevada has some very robust testing requirements compared to other medical and adult use states. Testing labs in Nevada are required to test for moisture content, potency, terpenes, foreign matter, mycotoxins, heavy metals, pesticide residue, herbicides, growth regulators, total yeast and mold, total Enterobacteriaceae, Salmonella, pathogenic E. coli, and four species of Aspergillus.
When it comes to heavy metals, Nevada only requires testing for arsenic (2ppm), cadmium (0.82 ppm), lead (1.2 ppm), and mercury (0.4 ppm), which some observers have criticized as not stringent enough. There have been calls to add tests for chromium, nickel, and other metals associated with stainless steel that is frequently used in oil cartridges.
Late last year, Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak created a multiagency task force which aims to “root out corruption or criminal influences” in Nevada’s legal cannabis market, specifically when it comes to lab testing. The allegations are that testing labs hid illegally high yeast and mold levels from consumers while defrauding them with inflated potency results. This is not a new problem in the lab testing world, nor is it unique to Nevada (look at Sequoia Analytical Labs in California for an egregious example).
What is surprising about the alleged fraud in Nevada is that Nevada has a novel cannabis testing requirement, which is meant to prevent that sort of fraud. Since 2016, Nevada has required “round-robin” testing in a program “jointly administered by the Nevada Division of Public and Behavioral Health (DPBH) and the Nevada Department of Agriculture (NDA).”
The round-robin testing program “is unique in that it takes actual marijuana samples and has each state cannabis lab perform a full sample analysis, comparing results among labs to ensure consistency throughout the testing process.” The purpose of round-robin testing was to prevent the practice of “lab shopping,” where cannabis businesses will take samples to several labs and “shop” for one that gives them the best test results.
The current allegations of fraud cast doubt on the effectiveness of Nevada’s round-robin testing, which is regrettable, as round-robin testing was one of 16 recommendations the NCIA had to improve cannabis testing.
Common questions about marijuana legalization in Nevada
People have questions about edibles, CBD, hemp, and medical cards in Nevada—here’s the details.
Can medical patients and caregivers grow their own medicine in Nevada?
Yes, but only if they live more than 25 miles from the closest dispensary, or if they did live 25 miles away from the closest dispensary when they began cultivation at their home.
How much cannabis can I legally possess in Nevada?
If you have a medical cannabis card from Nevada, or one of the 27 states and territories they recognize medical cards from, you are allowed to possess up to 1 ounce of usable marijuana. If you are not a medical marijuana patient, you are allowed to possess up to one ounce of usable marijuana and 3.5 grams of concentrated cannabis.
What types of cannabis products are legal in Nevada?
Question 2 legalized a wide range of marijuana products, including “products comprised of marijuana or concentrated marijuana and other ingredients that are intended for use or consumption, such as, but not limited to, edible products, ointments, and tinctures.” Even before adult use cannabis was legalized, patients in Nevada had access to a range of products including edibles, flowers, and concentrated cannabis.
What are the medical program’s qualifying conditions?
They are: AIDs, cachexia, cancer, glaucoma, persistent muscle spasms (including multiple sclerosis), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), seizures (including those caused by epilepsy), severe nausea, severe pain, and any other chronic or debilitating medical condition that, in the professional judgment of a physician, might be helped by the use of medical cannabis.
Can I buy cannabis at a dispensary if I am there from out of the state or out of the country?
Yes! Now that cannabis is legal for adult use, as long as you are an adult over 21 years old with a valid and not-expired ID, you can buy cannabis at dispensaries in Nevada. The only issue could be if your ID is in a language that uses characters that cannot be read by the dispensary staff who are used to reading English and its Roman letters.
Learn more about marijuana legalization in Nevada
Here are some additional resources, news, and references for Nevada marijuana policy.
- Question 9 1998, 2000 (Nevada Medical Marijuana Act)
- Question 2 2016 (Regulate Cannabis Like Alcohol)
- Homepage for Nevada’s Cannabis Compliance Board
- Department of Public and Behavioral Health’s Medical Marijuana Patient Cardholder Registry Homepage and FAQ page
- Department of Public and Behavioral Health’s Patient Cardholder Registry
- Nevada Revised Statute: Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana
- Nevada Revised Statute: Medical Use of Marijuana
- Nevada Administrative Code: Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana
- Nevada Administrative Code: Medical Use of Marijuana
- Marijuana Policy Project’s Nevada page
- Americans for Safe Access’ Nevada page
- The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws has a page on criminal penalties in Nevada, drug DUIs in Nevada, and a page on the cannabis program in Nevada
Keep up with the latest news about legalization in Nevada
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