Nevada allows medical marijuana use under limited circumstances. However, it is still a crime to drive under the influence of marijuana, and other laws regarding marijuana possession for non-medical purposes will still apply.
For information about how Nevada treats marijuana possession, sale, and manufacture, see Nevada Marijuana Laws.
For information on driving under the influence charges in Nevada, see Driving Under the Influence of Marijuana in Nevada.
Medical Marijuana Use in Nevada
Nevada allows medical marijuana use by patients with HIV/AIDS, cancer, glaucoma, or any medical condition that causes wasting syndrome; severe or chronic pain or nausea, seizures, or muscle spasms. This law removes the criminal penalties that would otherwise apply to nonmedical marijuana possession and use. To gain such protection, patients must obtain a written recommendation from a physician, register with the state, and obtain a registry identification card. Each patient may designate one primary caregiver to help the patient cultivate medicinal marijuana. (Nev. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 484C110.)
Legal Possession Amounts
A patient may possess and use up to one ounce of usable marijuana, and may cultivate up to four immature and three mature marijuana plants. Primary caregivers may possess—but not use—these amounts for each qualifying patient, and may assist their patients with medical marijuana use.
Penalties for Illegal Sale and Use
A person may not knowingly or intentionally possess or use medicinal marijuana, unless such use is in accordance with the regulations described above. Using medicinal marijuana without a valid prescription and ID card—or possessing more than the legal amount— is punishable with the same penalties imposed for illegal marijuana use and possession, depending on the amount illegally used or possessed.
To learn more about Nevada marijuana laws and penalties for illegal use or possession, see Nevada Marijuana Laws.
Defending Yourself When You Have Not Registered
As explained above, it is not illegal to use marijuana or assist someone as a caregiver when such use or assistance conforms with Nevada's medical marijuana use laws. Occasionally, however, people use marijuana for medical reasons or assist others, but have not complied with the legal requirements, such as obtaining a registry card.
Patients who are charged and tried for possessing marijuana, but who did so for medical reasons, may raise a “medical necessity” affirmative defense at trial. They must be able to prove that:
- they've been diagnosed with a chronic or debilitating condition within the 12 months preceding their arrest
- their attending doctor advised them that the medical use of marijuana may mitigate their symptoms, and
- they're using only the amount allowed by law (see above), or (if using more than that amount), the patient's doctor can show that the amount used is necessary to mitigate symptoms.
Caregivers who are charged may also offer a medical necessity defense.
If believed, the patient or caregiver may be acquitted of the charges, or the judge may lessen the sentence.
Raising and proving a "medical necessity" defense is complicated, and should be done only with the help of an attorney experienced in marijuana-related criminal defense.
(Nev. Rev. Stat. Ann. §)
An Important Note on Local Legal Representation
If you have been charged with a marijuana-related offense, consult an experienced criminal defense attorney. While the penalties and consequences of a marijuana charge are governed by statutory law, only a local criminal defense attorney can tell you how cases like yours tend to be handled by prosecutors and judges in your courthouse. If you intend to raise a "medical necessity" defense, you'll definitely need the help of an experienced lawyer.