As a spokesperson for the Question Two campaign and a strong supporter, I am still feeling the “buzz” from Tuesday’s election results. Nevadans agree that adults should not be punished for choosing to use marijuana, privately and responsibly. As we move forward, many people are starting to question when and where this legal marijuana can be purchased and how this will affect Nevada’s Medical Marijuana Program.
What are the laws governing recreational marijuana?
Initiative Petition 1 is the ballot initiative that voters passed on November 8, 2016. The Initiative sets forth an outline of the recreational marijuana laws, such as who will regulate the industry, the amount of the excise tax, and how much marijuana people are allowed to buy, use, and possess. The Initiative is an outline, though, and the Department of Taxation will issue regulations that will determine the qualifications for ownership, the rules on advertisements, requirements for testing, etc.
Can I purchase recreational marijuana today?
No, Initiative Petition 1, the ballot initiative that passed on November 8, 2016 does not become effective until January 1, 2017. See below for more information on when you may be to make purchases.
When will adults over 21 be able to purchase marijuana?
The effective date of Initiative Petition 1 is January 1, 2017. That does not mean adults over 21 can go into a dispensary on January 1, 2017 and legally purchase “recreational” marijuana. Rather, the Department of Taxation has 12 months from that date to issue regulations and begin accepting applications for marijuana establishments that will sell recreational marijuana, or dual licensees, which can sell both recreational and medical marijuana.
The Department of Taxation must approve or deny an application within 90 days after receipt of the application. Therefore, it is anticipated that legal recreational sales will occur around April of 2018.
However, Senator Tick Segerblom, widely considered the “godfather of marijuana” in Nevada, has again taken the lead on marijuana in Nevada and is organizing a trip to Oregon to do research on their “Early Start” program, which allowed sales of recreational marijuana earlier than their ballot initiative contemplated. If Senator Segerblom finds that a similar program would be successful in Nevada, then it is possible for the Nevada legislature to enact a similar “Early Start” program to allow legal sales of recreational marijuana prior to 2018.
What is allowed?
As of January 1, people will be able to possess, use, and consume up to 1 ounce of marijuana and 1/8th of an ounce of concentrated marijuana. Also, cultivation and possession of up to 6 plants will be legal unless a person resides within 25 miles of a dispensary. While possession and consumption is legal January 1, 2017, you must stay tuned on the date legal purchases can be made.
What is the tax rate?
Initiative Petition 1 imposes a 15% excise sales tax on wholesale sales in addition to state and local sales, which will be used to pay for costs of administering the program, with the remaining funds going to the State’s school distributive account.
How will Initiative Petition 1 affect the medical marijuana program?
With regards to the impact on the medical marijuana program, Initiative Petition 1 states that nothing in the Petition shall be construed to affect the medical marijuana program under NRS 453A. Therefore, patients do not need to worry that their rights or understanding of the medical marijuana program will change in any way.
What does Regulate Marijuana like Alcohol Mean?
The Department of Taxation will regulate recreational marijuana, which will be cultivated and sold in a three-tier model similar to alcohol.
Can people use marijuana in public now?
No, Initiative Petition 1 allows for criminal penalties for persons who smoke or consume marijuana in a public place, retail marijuana store, or moving vehicle. It will still be illegal to consume marijuana in a public place and you will most likely be in violation of Nevada’s DUI laws if you consume it in a vehicle, even a parked vehicle, so do not consume marijuana in a vehicle or in public.
Do employment or DUI laws change?
Initiative Petition 1 is explicit that it does not change DUI laws or employment law. The Petition states that it does not allow a person to drive under the influence or be in actual physical control of a vehicle while under the influence. The Nevada Legislature may make changes to Nevada’s DUI laws, but this ballot initiative does not. Similarly, the Petition specifically states that it does not prohibit a public or private employer from maintaining, enacting, and enforcing a workplace policy prohibiting or restrictions actions under the Petition. Therefore, the Petition does not change employment allow or prevent employers from prohibiting marijuana use by employees.
Can I get a license for a recreational marijuana facility?
Under Initiative Petition 1, only a “Retail Marijuana Store” may sell marijuana and marijuana products to consumers. The Initiative sets forth how many dispensaries will be permitted in each county. The Initiative also sets forth that there will be marijuana cultivation facilities, marijuana product manufacturing facilities, marijuana testing facilities, and marijuana distributors.
The Department of Taxation will adopt regulations governing the process to apply for a marijuana establishment license and the qualifications for licensure. The Department must adopt those regulations by January 1, 2018. The Department must begin accepting applications at that time, and must approve or deny the applications within 90 days of receipt. For the first 18 months from the date the Department begins accepting applications, the Department shall only accept licenses for recreational marijuana establishments (product manufacturing facilities, cultivation facilities, and dispensaries) from “persons holding a medical marijuana establishment registration certificate.” Therefore, if you do not hold a medical marijuana establishment registration certificate, you must wait for 18 months after the Department of Taxation begins to accept applications until you may apply to operate a retail marijuana store, cultivation facility, or product manufacturing facility.
As always, I welcome calls from patients and businesses regarding marijuana issues. I am proud of our state and look forward to being involved in shaping the regulatory framework for recreational marijuana. Contact Connor and Connor regarding any questions about marijuana legalization in Nevada.