When most people think of medical marijuana or even recreational cannabis use, they may think of states like California or Oregon, but Nevada has long been a leader in cannabis legislation in the Southwest region of the United States. The state has also been a tourist destination for many reasons from its unique geological formations to the bright lights of Las Vegas, but now they have added recreational cannabis to the list of attractions. Much like Colorado, Nevada stands to gain revenue from taxes and cannabis tourism in coming years. Cannabis businesses that want to operate in Nevada also need to know all about the legal precedents, Cannabis Laws in Nevada and the history of the plant in the Silver State.
Legal History of Cannabis in Nevada
Like most states in the nation, Nevada followed US Federal cannabis guidelines during most of the 20th century and kept the plant illegal, though Nevada voters created a medical cannabis program in the late 1990s and early 200s. Almost fifteen years later, Nevada legalized cannabis for recreational use as well, allowing adults to legally possess under an ounce of cannabis.
In the nineteenth century, hemp, a low THC strain of cannabis, was grown all over the US for the fibers in the plant, which make strong rope and certain kinds of fabric. Nevada was no exception, though they were more known for mining rather than farming. Though hemp was grown, people were more concerned with psychoactive cannabis that was sold as patent medicines in the late 1800s. As the twentieth century dawned, the public and legislators alike began to regulate these patent medicines to ensure purity and also become concerned with the use of illegal drugs, including hashish and opium. These two concerns, combined with the Prohibition of alcohol, led to cannabis being classified as an illegal drug, one which caused addiction and had no value as a medicine.
Early Legalization Efforts
In the latter half of the 20th century, specifically after the Vietnam war, counterculture activists began pushing for more relaxed laws surrounding cannabis. While these looser marijuana laws found some traction in West Coast states like California and some New England states like Maine, Nevada neglected to lift criminal penalties for cannabis possession, use, and sale. The 1980s saw tightening drug regulations overall, so the fight to legalize cannabis took a back burner until the 1990s.
Early Medical Cannabis Laws in Nevada – Legalization
The efforts of pro-cannabis organizations like NORML, or National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, were somewhat successful as many states began to see the medical value in cannabis in the last years of the 20th century. In 1998, 59% of Nevada voters decided to approve Question 9, which allowed terminally ill patients access to cannabis to relieve certain symptoms like wasting and pain. Nevada residents voted again in 2000 to create the Nevada Medical Marijuana Act, with 65% of voters choosing to allow medical cannabis in the Silver State.
Current Laws for Medical Cannabis in Nevada
Medical cannabis laws in Nevada follow the standard protocol of allowing patients with qualifying diseases to fill out an application, pay a fee, and get an ID card declaring them a medical marijuana patient. Caregivers, defined as a “person who has significant responsibility for managing the well-being of a person diagnosed with a chronic or debilitating medical condition”, must also register with the NV Department of Health and Human Services in order to get medical marijuana for the patient. This system is called the The Nevada Medical Marijuana Cardholders/Caregivers Program, and the fees collected bring in much-needed revenue for the Silver State. Under this program, medical cannabis patients can buy up to five ounces of cannabis per month, up to two and a half ounces of plant matter every two weeks.
Interestingly, Nevada is the only state in the US that also allows card-holding medical cannabis patients from other states to purchase cannabis in Nevada dispensaries. If someone has a valid medical marijuana card from Arizona, California, or any other state, they can get their medical cannabis in Nevada.
Patients and caregivers are allowed to grow up to twelve cannabis plants, with some exceptions. Someone who wishes to grow medical cannabis needs to register with the state of Nevada first, and they can’t live with twenty five miles of a registered dispensary.
Current Recreational Cannabis Laws in Nevada
After the passage of the Nevada Medical Marijuana Act, activists and legislators tried to ride that wave of pro-legalization success and also allow recreational cannabis in 2002 with another “Question 9,” and again in 2006 with the Nevada Regulation of Marijuana Initiative. Only gathering 44% of the vote, the Initiative was defeated.
Ten years later, Nevada voters succeeded in legalizing cannabis for recreational use by passing the Initiative to Regulate and Tax Marijuana. Though the new law allows adults (over the age of 21) to possess up to an ounce of cannabis plant matter, the legislation is incomplete, as it didn’t include regulations about retailers of cannabis.
What Cannabis Businesses Need to Know About Cannabis Laws in Nevada
While voters approved Question 2 in the November elections of 2016, many regulations are still up in the air as of mid 2017. The Nevada legislature is still hashing out a program to allow recreational cannabis dispensaries to obtain licenses to sell cannabis products. They are also drafting laws regarding how to package and label marijuana and THC infused products such as edibles for recreational use in Nevada. Currently, businesses that already have licenses to sell medical cannabis can begin selling it recreationally, with the public being able to apply to sell recreational cannabis in June of 2017.
Existing cannabis businesses, whether they’re already doing business in Nevada or just thinking about it, need professional packaging that emphasizes safety and protects their product. They can find it at greenrushpackaging.com, where packaging experts have created pouches, bags, and hard containers that are perfect for cannabis products. Their specialty cannabis packaging ensures that your product remains fresh and follows all local laws. In the emerging cannabis industry, it’s very important that all cannabis products don’t resemble candy in any way, and our packaging ensures that your product has a professional, adult feel.