A trip to Las Vegas is synonymous with fun, and in 2016, Las Vegas welcomed nearly 43 million visitors looking for a fantastically fun vacation, 27 percent of whom were there for the first time. Many tourists spend their days on the Strip, taking in the sights, gambling, attending shows, and enjoying a drink or two. Visitors in 2017 and beyond might be inclined to smoke cannabis on the Strip, as well, considering that the recreational use of the plant was made legal in Nevada last year.
Actually, they’d better keep it in their pockets.
Question 2, regarding the recreational use of cannabis in the state, went on the ballot and was approved by voters in November 2016; it went into effect on January 1, 2017. Starting July 1, dispensaries will be able to sell recreational as well as medical cannabis.
However, as in other states where medical and recreational cannabis has been approved, legal doesn’t mean free-for-all. Its use is carefully regulated, and it’s important to understand what is and is not permitted.
Nevada Revised Statute 453D.020 outlines the following:
- A person must be 21 years old to use and purchase marijuana. It is still illegal to sell or give cannabis to someone under the age of 21.
- Cannabis must be purchased from a licensed business in Nevada.
- It is still illegal to drive under the influence of cannabis.
It is permitted to grow cannabis under these guidelines:
- A person must cultivate the plants “within a closet, room, greenhouse, or other enclosed area that is equipped with a lock or other security device that allows access only to persons authorized to access the area.”
- The grower is not permitted to cultivate more than 12 plants in one residence at a time.
- A person may not grow cannabis for personal use within 25 miles of a licensed marijuana retailer. Considering the number of dispensaries that will be permitted in Clark County, it seems unlikely that someone who lives in Las Vegas will be more than 25 miles away from such a retailer.
The medical use of cannabis has been legal and regulated in Nevada since 2000, though the first dispensary didn’t open until 2015. It is worth noting that Nevada practices reciprocity, meaning it recognizes medical marijuana cards from other states where medical cannabis is legal. Therefore, someone who has a medical marijuana card from her home state can buy the plant at a Nevada dispensary with a government-issued card.
Cannabis in Public
While people are permitted to possess one ounce or less of marijuana (or up to an eighth of an ounce of concentrated marijuana), they may not use it in public, not even on the Las Vegas Strip. NRS 453D.400 states:
“A person who smokes or otherwise consumes marijuana in a public place, in a retail marijuana store, or in a moving vehicle is guilty of a misdemeanor punished by a fine of not more than $600.”
Technically, people may consume cannabis only in a private residence. If someone is renting an apartment, for example, he may need to check with the agency’s policy on recreational use. Of course, that’s not necessarily helpful for the millions of visitors who stay in hotel rooms on the Strip.
The law is clear: it is not legal to smoke cannabis on the Strip or anywhere in public in the State of Nevada. Visitors can enjoy their trips to Las Vegas and stay within the law by consuming their plants in private.