On Sunday, Nevada joins Colorado, Oregon, Washington and Alaska in legalizing recreational marijuana for adults as the state’s voter-approved measure takes effect. So what will and won’t be legal? And what does legalization bring with it?
Here are answers to some of the questions surrounding legalization that will help you navigate Nevada’s uncharted cannabis waters.
Question: When does marijuana become legal in Nevada?
Answer: At the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve.
Q: Who can use it?
A: Only adults 21 years and older.
Q: Can I buy weed legally on Jan. 1?
A: Come Jan. 1, you can only legally buy marijuana in Nevada with a medical marijuana card.
Why? Because no stores can sell recreational marijuana for several months. Question 2, which Nevadans approved by a 9 point margin last month, gives the state’s Department of Taxation until Jan. 1, 2018, to craft the the regulations that will govern retail marijuana dispensary licenses and sales. The department has said it is working on temporary regulations that would allow for licensed medical shops to sell some recreational products, but that won’t likely happen until the summer of 2017.
Q: How much marijuana can I have?
A: You can possess up to one ounce of marijuana, or up to 1/8 of an ounce of marijuana concentrates, at any given time.
Q: An ounce? How much weed is that?
A: In practical terms — a lot. There’s about 28 grams in an ounce, and researchers at the RAND Drug Policy Research Center calculated that the average joint uses about 1/2 gram of marijuana. So that means an ounce of pot can make roughly 60 joints.
Q: Can I drive around with marijuana in my car?
A: Yes, as long as you aren’t consuming it and it is within the legal amount to possess. Driving stoned, however, remains against the law. Not even passengers can smoke under the new law.
Q: How much weed can I buy once shops start selling it?
A: That’s up to the tax department, and the purchasing limits haven’t been ironed out. The law allows for a person to have up to one ounce of marijuana, or one-eighth of an ounce of concentrates at a time, so it would have to be within those limits.
Q: How much will recreational pot cost?
A: Hard to say at this point. Buying an 1/8 ounce of medical marijuana (about 7-8 joints) will run between $30 and $50, depending on the quality of the strain. Recreational marijuana will have additional taxes that are passed on to the consumers, so prices will likely be slightly higher.
Q: How will those taxes work?
A: The state will enact a 15 percent excise tax on the wholesale of marijuana. Those taxes are typically passed onto customers and included in the full retail price to offset the costs incurred by dispensaries. The tax department will determine a “fair market wholesale value” for marijuana to be the basis for that tax.
Otherwise, marijuana, marijuana products and paraphernalia will be subject to standard state and local sales taxes.
Q: Where will those tax dollars go?
A: Revenue from that excise taxes will go directly into the state’s education fund. The other taxes collected will be handled like standard sales taxes: They’ll go to the state, which will distribute the funds to local municipalities and governments.
Q: Can I grow my own marijuana?
A: Unless you live in the most rural parts of Nevada, the answer will likely be no.
To legally grow your own, you will have to live more than 25 miles from a marijuana dispensary. That eliminates the most populous chunks of Clark and Washoe counties — about 80 percent of the state’s population — as only a handful of towns are far enough away to grow in those counties.
Those who do live far enough away to grow marijuana legally will be allowed to grow up to 6 plants per individual, up to a maximum of 12 plants in residences with more than one person. Plants must be grown where they are not “visible from a public place by normal unaided vision,” according to the language in Question 2.
Q: Can I smoke it in public?
A: Nope. Question 2 specifically outlaws smoking or consuming marijuana in any fashion in public, in a retail shop and in a moving vehicle.
Q: I can smoke cigarettes in casinos. Can I smoke marijuana in them as well?
A: Again, nope. Casinos in Nevada abide by federal law. The Nevada Gaming Commission said in November that allowing or promoting marijuana consumption inside a casino property would be viewed as detrimental to the state’s regulatory reputation and advised gaming companies to keep their distance from pot.
Q: What about in local bars or hookah lounges?
A: Once again, no. But that could change. A bill request from state Sen. Tick Segerblom, D-Las Vegas, would give local governments the authority to permit marijuana consumption in certain areas they see fit, such as bars, parks and other public areas.
Segerblom said he expects recreational marijuana to be a big draw for the more than 42 million visitors that come to Las Vegas each year.
But many of those visitors won’t be able to legally consume their marijuana, as casinos aren’t expected to allow consumption on their properties.
“If you’re going to invite people from all around the world to buy and use marijuana, you need a place for them to use it,” Segerblom said. “They can’t use it in their hotel rooms. They’re going to have it, and use it. I’d rather have a place for them to use it.”
Q: So where can I smoke it legally?
A: The only legal place to smoke or consume cannabis is in a private residence.
Q: What’s the penalty for getting caught smoking in public?
A: Public consumption is a misdemeanor that could bring a citation with a fine up to $600 per offense.
“There are very specific places you can smoke,” said Las Vegas police spokesman Larry Hadfield. “If people are blatantly walking around police committing illegal acts, they should expect legal enforcement.”
Q: Who can sell marijuana?
A: Only licensed dispensaries can sell marijuana. The non-licensed sale of marijuana is a felony.
Q: Can I give marijuana to someone as a gift?
A: As long as it’s under the state’s allowable limit and is going to someone 21 years or older, there’s nothing in the law that says you can’t give marijuana to another adult as a gift.
Q: Can my boss fire me if I test positive for marijuana on a drug screen?
A: Yes. Question 2 does not stop employers from banning marijuana in the workplace. And while you might not be high when tested, having the drug or marijuana metabolites in your system could be considered a firing offense by your employer.
Q: What if I give it to someone under 21?
A: That’s illegal, and is considered a misdemeanor. If they’re under 18, it is a gross misdemeanor.