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Using Marijuana Legally in Las Vegas

Nevada’s decision to make it legal for adults to possess and use marijuana captured a lot of interest from tourists as well as residents of Las Vegas. Though marijuana is legal for recreational use in Nevada, the law has restrictions that have created confusion and led to arrests and criminal convictions of many people in Las Vegas.

The lawyers of Adras & Altig defend those arrested for pot possession charges in Las Vegas. It is important to understand Nevada marijuana laws and clear up what marijuana enthusiasts or the curious can and cannot legally do in Las Vegas.

The Basics of Nevada Marijuana Use Laws

By enacting the Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act in 2016 after a public referendum, Nevada declared that marijuana should be treated more like alcohol than an illegal drug or controlled substance. Recreational use of the cannabis and its alternative forms (edibles, capsules) became legal on Jan. 1, 2017, and licensed sales began the following July.

Nevada law allows anyone 21 years old or older to buy, possess and consume marijuana for recreational use. Users do not need medical approval to smoke or use weed. However, restrictions remain.

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about marijuana in Nevada:

  • How much marijuana can a person legally possess in Las Vegas? Possession of up to 1 ounce of marijuana or 1/8-ounce of cannabis concentrate is legal in Nevada. Possessing a larger quantity is a crime unless you are a licensed vendor. Because pot is still illegal under federal law, it is illegal to possess marijuana on federal property in Nevada. This includes the Post Office, federal courthouses, Veterans Administration offices, airports (including McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas) and national parks, forests and monuments, such as Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area and Little Red Rock, which are popular tourist destinations near Las Vegas.
  • How can someone buy marijuana in Nevada? It is legal to buy marijuana from state-licensed dispensaries, or retail shops. (They are plentiful.) Buying marijuana elsewhere is illegal. Even paying someone back who you asked to buy some for you on their visit to the store is technically illegal.
  • Can I get high in Las Vegas casinos? It is not legal to consume marijuana in public in Nevada. Under the law, you may smoke weed or otherwise use marijuana (i.e., edibles) on private property, which in the spirit of the law is meant to be your own home or at another private residence with permission. It is not legal to use marijuana at the store where you buy it or while riding in a car. You cannot legally consume marijuana in any form in public areas of Las Vegas casinos or in casino hotel rooms. Because of federal marijuana prohibitions and state gaming laws, this is not likely to change anytime soon. This makes it tough for Las Vegas tourists to use marijuana legally without knowing someone who lives here.
  • Can I drive in Las Vegas after using marijuana? Smoking pot and driving is like drinking and driving. If you drive while impaired by marijuana and get caught in Nevada — by weaving, crossing the centerline or some other traffic infraction, or in a license check — you may face a charge of Driving Under the Influence of Drugs.

Under Nevada law, a person is illegally under the influence of marijuana if chemical tests show their blood or urine exceeds legal levels of cannabis in the form of:

  • Marijuana — 2 nanograms per milliliter
  • Marijuana metabolite — 5 nanograms per milliliter.

You Can Be Arrested for Marijuana In Las Vegas

We know the next thoughts of many who are reading this: … This is Las Vegas, a party city that invites people to come and have a good time. Many things are tolerated in Las Vegas if you don’t bother others or bring undue attention to yourself. Unfortunately, every night, people make mistakes or lose self-control and get arrested in Las Vegas.

One exception to the party-hardy attitude Las Vegas is known for is how casinos operate. They are serious businesses. Do not challenge the rules in a Las Vegas casino. There is far too much money at stake to let anything occur that could threaten a Nevada gaming license. That includes any sign of drug use. Do not take marijuana into a casino.

You can be arrested for “joint possession” of marijuana, which refers to marijuana being found in the presence of multiple people who are somehow linked together, such as roommates or spouses. If pot is found in a Vegas hotel room or in a car, everyone there could initially be charged with possession.

At a Las Vegas casino’s hotel, if a housekeeper or other staff smells or sees evidence of drug use, they are obligated to report it. You can bet they will.

Getting arrested and charged with possession of marijuana in Las Vegas will put an end to the party. You could be fined $600 for smoking or even displaying weed in public, if convicted. Possession of more than 1 ounce of pot is a felony punishable by up to four years in prison, if convicted. You can also get four years for selling any amount of marijuana without a license. If you have been charged with possession of marijuana, our experienced Las Vegas criminal defense lawyers are ready to assist you.

Contact a Las Vegas Criminal Defense Attorney

Nevada has legalized the private, responsible use of marijuana. But public use of marijuana or driving while high on cannabis remains illegal. If you have been arrested in Las Vegas or greater Clark County, Nevada on charges of marijuana use, possession or sale, you need legal representation right away.

The Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys of Adras & Altig have been helping residents and tourists who face criminal charges in Clark County for more than a decade. Contact Adras & Altig as soon as possible after a marijuana arrest. We will respond quickly to get you released from custody and start building a smart defense strategy for you.

Contact the Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys of Adras & Altig as soon as possible after an arrest for possessing marijuana.

A Guide to Marijuana Laws in Las Vegas, Nevada

Updated July 20, 2020

Recreational marijuana is legal in Nevada. Only adults 21 and over may use it. They may not possess more than one ounce. And the marijuana use and possession must be in a private residence.

Only licensed dispensaries may sell pot. In 2021, public consumption may become legal in licensed social use venues.

On this page our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys provide an overview of Nevada marijuana laws:

Adults 21 and older may possess up to 1 oz. of marijuana in Nevada for recreational use.

1. Is recreational marijuana legal in Nevada?

Adults 21 years of age and older in Nevada may possess up to one ounce of pot for personal use. Or they may possess up to 1/8 of an ounce of marijuana concentrate (such as hashish). Concentrate is the separated resin, either crude or purified.

It is illegal to consume recreational cannabis outside a private residence. And residential owners may prohibit marijuana on their own property.

Examples of public places where pot is illegal under state law include:

  • Hotel rooms,
  • Casinos,
  • Schools and universities,
  • Dorm rooms,
  • Common areas in apartment buildings,
  • Offices buildings,
  • Restaurants,
  • Bars,
  • Stadiums,
  • Public restrooms, and
  • Federal property 1

Las Vegas has legalized public pot consumption in social use venues. But the governor delayed this legalization until 2021. However, people can currently consume pot legally in the Paiute cannabis lounge. 2

1.1. Penalties

Smoking weed in public is a misdemeanor carrying a $600 fine in the state of Nevada.

A first offense of having more than 1 oz. but less than 14 grams is a category E felony. Courts grant eligible defendants who plead guilty or no contest a deferral of judgment, which means the charge will get dismissed if the defendant completes various court-ordered sentencing terms. Otherwise, category E felony convictions carry probation and a suspended sentence. (But if the defendant has two or more prior felony convictions, the court may order one to four years of Nevada State Prison and a maximum of $5,000 in fines.)

2. Where can marijuana be purchased?

In licensed dispensaries. Purchasers must show their ID. And they may not consume the pot until they get home.

On the drive home, the weed must remain in a sealed container. Ideally it should also be out of view in the trunk or glove compartment. Neither drivers nor passengers may consume pot in a vehicle.

2.1. Dispensaries

Most marijuana dispensaries are in Las Vegas, Henderson, and Reno. A county’s population determines the number of dispensaries it can license.

Clark County has the most: 80 licenses. Washoe County has the second-most: 20 licenses. Carson City has four. And the remaining 14 counties have two licenses.

Local governments determine their dispensaries’ store hours. And the dispensaries must keep these hours conspicuously posted. Currently, Las Vegas dispensaries may operate between 6:00 A.M. and 10:00 P.M. And in Reno, closing must be no later than midnight.

Many dispensaries are licensed to sell both recreational and medical marijuana. Consumers of recreational pot pay a regular sales tax. Wholesalers pay a 15% excise tax. And retailers pay a 10% excise tax. 3

3. Is it legal to grow and cultivate cannabis?

Cultivating recreational weed is illegal with one exception. The grower must live more than 25 miles from a licensed dispensary.

People who do live more than 25 miles away may grow up to six marijuana plants. No household may have more than 12 plants total.

The plants must be located in an enclosed space such as a room, greenhouse, or closet. The space must have a lock or security apparatus. And the plants cannot be visible to the public. If the grower is not the property owner, the grower must get the owner’s permission. 4

3.1. Penalties

Growing more than the 12-plant maximum is a category E felony. Category E felony convictions carry probation and a suspended sentence, with a possible sentence of up to 1 year in jail. (But if the defendant has two or more prior felony convictions, the court may order one to four years of Nevada State Prison and a maximum of $5,000 in fines.)

The penalties for unlawfully growing weed within 25 miles of a licensed dispensary increase with each conviction:

Conviction for growing marijuana within 25 miles of a dispensary

Nevada penalties

Probation and a suspended sentence, with a possible jail sentence of up to 1 year. But if the defendant has two or more prior felony convictions, the court may order:

4. Who is allowed to sell or distribute marijuana?

Only licensed dispensaries may sell and distribute pot in Nevada. Weed may not be driven or transported between state lines. It makes no difference if marijuana is legal in both states.

Weed also may not be sent through the mail. When the USPS detects pot, it may make the delivery only to arrest the recipient. 5

4.1. Penalties

A first-time offense of possessing pot with the intent to sell it is a category D felony. It carries one to four years in prison and possibly up to $5,000 in fines.

A first-time offense of selling pot is a category C felony. It carries one to five years in prison and possibly up to $10,000 in fines.

Any action involving 50 pounds or more of weed is prosecuted as trafficking. Depending on the weight, prison sentences range from one year to life.

It may be possible to get pot charges reduced or dismissed through a plea bargain.

5. Can minors have marijuana?

No one under age 21 may possess weed in Nevada. The only exception is people with medical marijuana cards. 6

5.1. Penalties

It is a misdemeanor for underage people to hold themselves out as 21 to obtain weed. The punishment is up to $1,000 in fines and/or up to six months in jail.

It is also a misdemeanor for people under 21 to loiter in dispensaries. The punishment is a $500 fine.

It is a gross misdemeanor to knowingly provide cannabis to a minor under 18. The punishment is up to $2,000 in fines and/or up to 364 days in jail. If the minor is over 18 but under 21, knowingly providing pot is only a misdemeanor. The penalty is up to $1,000 in fines and/or up to six months in jail.

6. Is DUI of marijuana a crime?

Yes. Nevada law prohibits drunk driving and drugged driving. Even if the driver is not impaired, it is DUI per se to drive with the following pot levels:

  • Blood: At least 2 nanograms per milliliter (or 5 nanograms per milliliter of marijuana metabolite);
  • Urine: At least 10 nanograms per milliliter (or 5 nanograms per milliliter of marijuana metabolite)

A first-time DUI conviction with no injury is a misdemeanor. Penalties typically include a fine and suspended jail sentence. The judge also orders DUI school and a victim impact panel.

A first-time DUI also carries a six-month driver’s license suspension. But defendants can usually drive immediately on a restricted license. 7

7. What are the medical marijuana laws?

People of any age can apply for a medical marijuana card in Nevada. Their doctor just needs to sign off on it.

If the patient is under 18, his/her parent or guardian needs to sign the medical use Minor Release Form. This parent or guardian also acts as the primary caregiver.

The medical card must be issued by Nevada or one of the following reciprocal states:

Cardholders may buy up to 2.5 ounces of usable weed within a 14-day period. Usable weed includes:

  • Edibles
  • Flowers
  • Concentrates
  • Topicals

Patients can buy 2.5 ounces of one type of medical cannabis. Else they can buy a combination that amounts to 2.5 ounces. Patients may purchase their cannabinoids all in one dispensary. Or they may go to several dispensaries.

Dispensaries share customer information with each other. So they will not sell cannabis to patients who already met their limit. 8

8. Is pot still illegal under federal law?

Yes, marijuana is a Schedule I controlled substance under federal law. The feds are unlikely to bust recreational users or licensed dispensaries. But they could.

In addition, people caught with weed may be ineligible for federal financial aid. This includes:

  • Work-Study programs;
  • Pell grants;
  • Perkins loans;
  • PLUS loans; or
  • Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants;

Weed users may also be ineligible for federal housing benefits. Pot users may not purchase a gun. And pot is banned on federal property. Examples include federal buildings, parks, and military bases.

Furthermore, businesses that accept large amounts of federal funding have to follow the Drug-Free Workplace Act of 1988. 9

9. Can the cases be sealed?

Yes, unless the case was for felony DUI. And there is a waiting period, unless the case was dismissed. The length of the wait depends on the crime. 10

Category of cannabis conviction

Waiting period to get a Nevada record seal

10. What are the immigration consequences?

All marijuana crimes are deportable with one exception: Possessing 30 grams or less for personal use.

Non-citizens facing prosecution should hire an attorney immediately. The attorney may be able to get the charge dropped. Or he/she may get the charge reduced to a non-deportable offense.

For more information, contact our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys for a free consultation.

¿Habla español? Más información acerca de las leyes de marihuana.

Arrested in California? Go to our article on California pot laws.

Arrested in Colorado? Go to our article on Colorado pot laws.

Legal References
  1. NRS 453.336; NRS 453D.400 ; On November 8, 2016, Nevadans voted on Ballot Question 2 to legalize recreational pot. This is also called the Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act. It went into effect on January 1, 2017.
  2. Dan Hernandez, “‘The tribe has taken over’: the Native Americans running Las Vegas’ only cannabis lounge“, The Guardian (November 11, 2019).
  3. NRS 453D.210 .
  4. NRS 453D.400 .
  5. NRS 453D; 18 U.S.C. 1716.
  6. NRS 453D.400 .
  7. NRS 484C.110.
  8. NRS 453A.
  9. Section 484 subsection R of the Higher Education Act of 1998; Federal Form 4473; 41 U.S.C. 8101-8106.
  10. NRS 179.245; NRS 179.255.
  11. 8 U.S.C. § 1227(a)(2)(B).

Nevada Laws Blog Posts:

Updated July 20, 2020 Recreational marijuana is legal in Nevada. Only adults 21 and over may use it. They may not possess more than one ounce. And the marijuana use and possession must be in a private residence. Only licensed dispensaries may sell pot. In 2021, public consumption may become legal in licensed social .

Updated July 20, 2020 Recreational marijuana is legal in Nevada. Only adults 21 and over may use it. They may not possess more than one ounce. And the marijuana use and possession must be in a private residence. Only licensed dispensaries may sell pot. In 2021, public consumption may become legal in licensed social .

Updated July 20, 2020 Recreational marijuana is legal in Nevada. Only adults 21 and over may use it. They may not possess more than one ounce. And the marijuana use and possession must be in a private residence. Only licensed dispensaries may sell pot. In 2021, public consumption may become legal in licensed social .

Updated July 20, 2020 Recreational marijuana is legal in Nevada. Only adults 21 and over may use it. They may not possess more than one ounce. And the marijuana use and possession must be in a private residence. Only licensed dispensaries may sell pot. In 2021, public consumption may become legal in licensed social .

Las Vegas criminal defense lawyers explain Nevada marijuana laws re. use, possession, cultivation, sales, distribution, DUI, seals, and immigration issues. ]]>