Marijuana will be legal in Las Vegas and across Nevada starting January 1, 2017.
On November 8, 2016, voters in Nevada approved the Initiative to Regulate and Tax Marijuana in a 54.4 percent to 45.5 percent vote. Beginning January 1, 2017, the Nevada Revised Statutes will be amended to allow adults 21 years or older to “purchase, cultivate, possess or consume” up to an ounce of marijuana and up to an eighth of an ounce of cannabis concentrates. Although some of the details regarding marijuana regulation have yet to be resolved and the potential negative consequences of the amendment are unknown, one thing remains certain: Big changes are ahead. Thus, it’s vital that Nevadans educate themselves on the facts. The following is a brief look at some of the Las Vegas marijuana laws and policies that will (and won’t) be changing starting January 1.
1. Marijuana will likely remain banned from college campuses
While marijuana will be legal in Nevada beginning January 1, 2017, it will remain illegal on the federal level. Because the University of Nevada (and other public colleges) rely on federal funding, it is highly likely that they will uphold the ban on marijuana use on campus in order to comply with federal law. Private universities are expected to do the same.
2. Driving under the influence will remain illegal
Drivers who smoke marijuana or consume THC-infused products and then get behind the wheel could be charged with a DUI, as driving under the influence of a controlled substance will remain illegal throughout the state. Passengers who smoke marijuana in a moving vehicle could face charges as well. Using in public spaces—which will include moving vehicles—will continue to be against the law and those caught smoking in a moving car, boat or aircraft would be guilty of a misdemeanor and could be fined up to $600.
3. Employees can still be fired for marijuana use
Because marijuana remains illegal at the federal level, employers can still choose to enforce zero tolerance policies in the workplace. This means that even though employees will legally be allowed to smoke marijuana at home, if their employers find about it, they can still be fired. Job applicants can also be denied employment for marijuana use.
4. Marijuana will remain banned from public housing
Those applying for federal housing could have their applications denied if it is discovered that they are using marijuana. Similarly, those currently residing in public housing could also face eviction for using the drug. However, according to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, although authorities are allowed to evict residents for marijuana use, they aren’t required to.
5. Marijuana will not be allowed to be transported across state lines
Those who purchase marijuana in Nevada must consume it in Nevada and are banned from taking it with them to another state, even to a state like California, where recreational marijuana is now legal. Similarly, people who purchase marijuana in California and then drive into Nevada could also face criminal penalties. All marijuana cultivated and sold in Nevada must remain in Nevada.
6. It will be illegal to use marijuana in public
People in Nevada will not be allowed to use or grow marijuana in public. Although the law will allow individuals to grow up to six plants at home, this will only apply to those residing outside a 25-mile radius of a licensed dispensary and all plants will have to be kept in an enclosed and locked area (such as a closet, room or green house) and away from the public’s view. Those living within a 25-mile radius of a dispensary will be required to purchase the drug from the dispensary. If caught using marijuana in a public place, which includes parks, sidewalks and moving vehicles, individuals will be “guilty of a misdemeanor punished by a fine of not more than $600”, according to the Initiative.
7. The sale of marijuana will remain illegal until the government decides on licensing and regulation policies
Although marijuana use for recreational purposes will be legal beginning January 1, 2017, those wishing to sell the drug may have to wait until January 2018. It will take some time for the government to work out the details on how to regulate the drug. Retail licenses will also need to be issued.
The bottom line:
Despite what some may believe, marijuana is a powerful substance with the potential for abuse and addiction. Much remains unclear regarding the Nevada and Las Vegas marijuana laws, and until the state government irons out many of the details, it is wise for Nevada residents to exercise caution.
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