If you’ve been paying attention to the headlines in Las Vegas and Nevada recently, you may have noticed that recreational marijuana use in the Silver State has been a hot button topic for months. After a years-long lobby and multiple attempts, marijuana advocates, activists, and voters were able to pass Ballot Question Two in Nevada in November of 2016. Here’s what that means for medical and recreational marijuana smokers who will be in the Silver State this summer.
As of January 8, 2017, it became legal for adults over the age of 21 to possess up to an ounce of marijuana flower and an ⅛ of marijuana concentrate at a time.
Any adult who is 18 or older with a valid state-issued medical marijuana card can buy cannabis at a medical marijuana dispensary. Out-of-state cards are accepted, and minors who have been approved for a medical marijuana prescription can also purchase their medication from a dispensary as long as a parent or guardian is there to sign a “Minor Release Form.” Parents or guardians will also need to confirm their position as caregiver for the minor as well.
Although the state is still fine-tuning its set of regulations surrounding recreational marijuana, those with a valid medical license can buy up to two and a half ounces of marijuana flower or concentrate within a two-week period. Keep in mind that these weights are based on the total weight of cannabinoids in each kind of product and that the state tracks purchases in real time to prevent patients from tricking the system by going to different dispensaries.
From now until the establishment of recreational use laws, legal marijuana consumption is for private use only. It is illegal to smoke in public and doing so will result in a ticket, a fine, or both. Fortunately, the state and industry leaders have been proactive in solving this issue, and there are several bills under review by both the state senate and assembly set to be voted on this summer.
Since November, the cannabis industry in Nevada has pushed ahead, despite initial indications that the incoming administration would not look kindly upon states that had gone purple. Nevertheless, Nevadans persisted. Working together with leaders in the local industry, state representatives, medical marijuana advocates, and leaders in the community, the Silver State successfully streamlined a licensing process for recreational marijuana sale and use that not even California and Colorado can compete with.
As of May 2017, more than a dozen different bills regarding the use and sale of recreational marijuana in Nevada have been proposed or are under review by the state assembly. Although the laws cover everything from revisions of previously prohibited actions involving the use of marijuana to the taxation of the cannabis industry, there are two bills concerning the sale and consumption of recreational marijuana that smokers may want to keep a particular eye on.
Before the introduction of Senate Bill 302 to the state’s judiciary committee, smokers of recreational marijuana were caught in a catch 22. While they could legally possess up to an ounce of marijuana without fear of legal persecution, without a state-issued medical license, it is illegal to purchase marijuana in the state.
Furthermore, it is also in violation of both state and federal laws to travel across state lines with their flower or marijuana concentrates. Fortunately, SB302 not only provides for an ‘early start’ program for recreational marijuana sales, but it also establishes the foundation for Nevada’s approach to taxing and governing the state’s recreational marijuana industry.
In early May, state representatives from a joint meeting of the Senate committees responsible for the regulation of the newly legal recreational marijuana industry made good on their promises that recreational marijuana sales would begin as early as July 1, 2017. At that time, those medical marijuana facilities who submitted their applications for recreational sales and are approved by the state will be able to sell marijuana to both medical and recreational pot smokers who are 21 or older.
To be approved by the state for recreational sale, dispensaries grow, and other cannabis industry businesses must be deemed “in good standing” by the state and must have paid their taxes by or at the time of their application. May 30th was the last day to submit these applications, and the state has yet to review and approve them at this time. (Keep up with our blog to get the updates as they come!)
Keep in mind that the ‘early start’ program is only effective through the end of 2017. The interim proposal serves the dual purpose of providing a security measure for the state while allowing the marijuana industry’s new governing body, the Department of Taxation, the opportunity to identify and solve any potential issues with the purchase and sale of recreational marijuana sales before issuing longer-term state certifications next year.
The spontaneity and flexibility of the temporary measures also allows the state to immediately begin seeing the benefit of the estimated $70 million of revenue promised by Governor Brian Sandoval’s proposed 2018-2019 budget sooner rather than later.
Even if you aren’t a resident of Nevada, it’s likely that you’ve already heard of SB236, especially if you like to keep tabs on the developments of the cannabis industry in the United States. Although Nevada is the seventh state to fully legalize marijuana for recreational and medicinal purposes, this bill has the Silver State on the fast track to becoming the first state in the nation to create a legislative space for weed lounges and weed consumption at special events.
Almost 50 million tourists raked in more than 70 billion dollars for the casino industry last year. Many of those tourists were Americans and, with 30 states having decriminalized marijuana laws on the books, casinos need somewhere for their guests to go.
Despite the decriminalization of marijuana in most states, the drug itself remains a Federal Schedule One drug, which means that the federal government does not officially recognize the medical or therapeutic functions of marijuana and considers it to be both highly addictive and dangerous. Although these stances have been debunked, marijuana remains a schedule one drug. This is all despite pushes from patients, advocates, and industry lobbyists to change its classification.
Because the gaming industry is also regulated by federal law, casinos cannot allow or appear to endorse the consumption of any federally scheduled substances without threatening their entire operation. Nevertheless, casinos need—and want—the business that marijuana smoking tourists bring to the Silver State. According to Nevada Gaming Commission Chairman Tony Alamo, having weed lounges located away from gaming properties would help keep marijuana out of the resorts while giving tourists a legal place to consume cannabis.
With more than 150 different businesses holding medical marijuana licenses eligible to apply for recreational marijuana sales and distribution, legislators and industry giants are working to provide an answer to the increasingly urgent questions: where will the tourists go to smoke weed?
Although Denver was the first state to pass legislation legalizing weed lounges, Nevada’s SB236 has flown through both the senate and state assembly. Sponsored by Democrat Senator Tick Segerblom, who coincidentally sponsored many of the 19 marijuana bills being reviewed this year, SB236 is intended to grant people the right to use marijuana outside of their homes and at special concerts or events.
In proposing the bill, Segerblom noted that Las Vegas has more than 40 million tourists who, as of January 1st, were able to purchase marijuana legally but not consume it. “If you don’t have a place to use it, they’re going to be using it in casinos and hotel rooms,” he said. “The industry is recognizing that we need to have places where people can go.”
Based on the streamlined advancement of the legislative framework for Nevada’s cannabis industry, soon Nevadans and tourists alike will both be able to buy marijuana from a local dispensary and head next door to or down the street to a marijuana “lounge” where they can safely—and legally—consume cannabis.
Keep in mind, however, that many of the proposed amendments to the bill include limitation not only on where these lounges can be located (at least 1,000 feet away from a public or community space, among other restrictions) but also on the kinds of events that can qualify as a “special marijuana event.”
For those interested in the other marijuana-related bills floating in the Nevada legislature, here’s a quick guide on marijuana-related legislation in Nevada that have been proposed, reviewed, or passed:
As the legislative wheels help the cannabis industry turn over a new recreational leaf, Las Vegas ReLeaf, remains committed to offering patients a safe and legal way to get their ReLeaf. Keep up with weekly updates on the new developments in the cannabis industry by following us on Facebook and Twitter.