When Is Marijuana Officially Legal In Nevada?


Voters in Nevada approved Question 2 on November 8, 2016. The initiative legalizes the possession of up to one ounce by adults that are 21 years old or older. The initiative also legalizes the cultivation of up to 6 plants by adults 21 years old or older and also permits that those adults can ‘possess the marijuana produced by the plants on the premises where the plants were grown.’ There is a 12 plant limit per residence. If a residence is located within 25 miles of a licensed marijuana store, home cultivation is prohibited.

Those are the basics of the initiative from a consumer standpoint. Eventually rules will be made for the industry, licenses will be issued, and stores and other businesses will open. But for those that have a primary concern of avoiding jail time and/or other sanctions for consuming marijuana, the logical first question is ‘when is marijuana officially legal in Nevada?’ There is a misconception out there that marijuana was legalized on Election Day in Nevada. That was the case in California because that quick turnaround on implementation was written into the initiative.

Per the initiative’s language that Nevada voters approved on Election Day:

Sec. 18.    Effective Date.   This act shall become effective on October 1, 2015 if approved by the legislature, or on January 1, 2017 if approved by the voters.

Nevada’s Legislature had the chance to approve the initiative first, but instead passed the decision along to voters. The end result was 602,400 ‘yes’ votes to 503,615 ‘no’ votes, or 54.47% to 45.53%. By election standards, that’s a significant victory. It’s worth noting that there are prosecutors in jurisdictions in Nevada that have come out with statements establishing that they will no longer be prosecuting cases that involve charges that will be legal as of January 1, 2017. Reno’s City Attorney is an example, putting Reno on the right side of history early. Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson and Las Vegas City Attorney Brad Jerbic have stated that they will stop prosecutions.

Unfortunately not everyone is warming up to marijuana legalization as fast. As was the case in every other state that has implemented legalization, there are members of law enforcement in some areas that will arrest people to the very end. Keep that in mind if you are in Nevada for the remainder of 2016. Just because it won’t be prosecuted doesn’t mean that cops won’t still enforce existing law, and you will ultimately prevail but only after enduring some bad experiences. January 1st is right around the corner, at which point you will be able to consume in private settings to your hearts content. Freedom is on the way!

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