Nevada Marijuana Laws
Marijuana possession, sale, and manufacture are regulated by both state and federal law. In Nevada, marijuana is classified as a Schedule I substance, which means that it has a high potential for abuse and no generally recognized medical value. (Nev. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 453.336.) However, in November 2016, the voters approved the Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act (the “Act”), effective January 1, 2017, which legalized the personal possession and use of small amounts of marijuana. And, Nevada does allow medical marijuana use under limited circumstances.
To learn about Nevada's medical marijuana laws, see Nevada Medical Marijuana Laws.
For information about charges and penalties for driving under the influence of marijuana in Nevada, see Driving Under the Influence of Marijuana in Nevada.
Possession of Small Amounts
The new law taking effect in 2017 puts Nevada among the growing ranks of states who have legalized the recreational use of marijuana. Some highlights of the new law include:
- Adults 21 years of age and older may possess, for their personal use, up to one ounce of marijuana or up to one-eighth of an ounce of concentrated marijuana.
- Adults may purchase marijuana from retail stores, which will be licensed and regulated by the state. Adults who live more than 25 miles from a retail store may cultivate up to six plants in an enclosed, locked area.
- The state will license retail stores, distributors, cultivation facilities, manufactures, and testing facilities. The Nevada Department of Taxation will adopt rules concerning testing, packaging, labeling, and tracking products.
- Local governments may pass zoning and land use laws that pertain to retail marijuana stores.
- Wholesale sales will be taxed at 15%, and retail sales will be subject to normal sales tax schedules.
Notably, the new law does not change any laws concerning driving under the influence of marijuana (still completely illegal), does not affect an employer’s current marijuana policies or its ability to adopt workplace restrictions on employees’ marijuana use, and does not change Nevada’s rules regarding medical marijuana.
Penalties for Unlawful Personal Possession
The new Nevada law provides for the following penalties in the event a consumer violates the small amount rules (not an exhaustive list):
- Cultivating within 25 miles of a retail establishment, cultivating plants that are visible from a public place, or cultivating on property that does not belong to the grower or without the consent of the property owner: For the first offense, a misdemeanor punishable by a fine up to $600; for the second offense, a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $1,000; for a third offense, a gross misdemeanor (see Nevada Misdemeanor Crimes by Class and Sentences); for a fourth offense, a category E felony (see Nevada Felony Crimes by Class and Sentences).
- Smoking or consuming in a public place: a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $600.
- Giving marijuana to a person under 21 years of age: a misdemeanor. Giving marijuana to a person under 18 years of age: a gross misdemeanor.
Possession of Large Amounts
It is a crime to knowingly or intentionally possess marijuana in Nevada (other than small amounts for personal use, as just described). Possessing more than one ounce is penalized as manufacture, sale, and trafficking. (Nev. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 453.337.)
- Between one ounce and 100 pounds. Penalties for a first offense include a fine of up to $20,000, between one and six years in prison, or both. A second offense carries a fine of up to $20,000, between two and ten years in prison, or both. And a third or subsequent offense carries a fine of up to $20,000, between three and 15 years in prison, or both.
- Between 100 and 2,000 pounds. Penalties include a fine of up to $25,000, up to five years in prison, or both.
- Between 2,000 and 10,000 pounds. Penalties include a fine of up to $50,000, between two and 20 years in prison, or both.
- More than 10,000 pounds. Penalties include a fine of up to $200,000, between five years and life in prison, or both.
- Sale to a minor. Penalties for a first offense a fine, between one and 20 years in prison, or both. A second offense carries a fine, life in prison, or both.
- Sales within a school zone. Penalties are doubled for an offense that took place within 1,000 feet of a school, playground, youth center, video arcade, bus stop (during school hours); or while on a school bus.
Adults who are 21 years of age or older may manufacture, possess, use, transport, or purchase marijuana paraphernalia, and distribute the same to other adults. Minors who use paraphernalia (or possess it with the intent to do so) may be charged with a misdemeanor, punishable with a fine of up to $1,000, six months in jail, or both. (Nev. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 453.566.)
Selling paraphernalia to a minor is punishable with a fine of up to $10,000, one to five years in prison, or both. (Nev. Rev. Stat. Ann. §§ 453.560 & 453.562.)
The Value of 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.