Nevada on January 1 will become the seventh US state to eliminate criminal penalties specific to the adult possession and personal use of cannabis.
Until that time, folks in possession of weed, even at home, are still subject to arrest. Of course, that becomes a hell of a lot more likely when local law enforcement hates pot, so discretion is the better part of valor. Unless, of course, you want to be the last adult busted for pot in Nevada? Any volunteers?
Law enforcement in Sparks and the top prosecutor in Washoe County have vowed to continue to enforce existing prohibitions until the voter-approved initiative legalizing marijuana possession for recreational use kicks in.
“What happens in Vegas doesn’t always stay in Vegas,” said NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri. “Voters in the western region of the United States are leading the way toward the eventual nationwide re-legalization of marijuana by responsible adults. Federal laws need to reflect this reality, not deny it.”
Alaska, California, Colorado, Massachusetts, Oregon, and Washington have already adopted voter-initiated laws legalizing the private consumption of cannabis by adults. The District of Columbia also permits adults to legally possess and grow personal use quantities of marijuana in private residences.
On Election Day, almost 55 percent of Nevada voters approved Question 2, the Nevada Marijuana Legalization Initiative. The final tally was 602,400 ‘Yes’ votes to 503,615 ‘No’ votes, or 54.47 percent to 45.53 percent.
The law permits adults who are not participating in the state’s existing medical cannabis program to possess up to one ounce of marijuana and/or up to 3.5 grams of cannabis concentrates. Nevada’s voters legalized medical marijuana back in 2000.
Under the new recreational legalization law, adults may also lawfully grow up to six plants in their home if they reside 25 miles or more away from a marijuana retailer. There is a limit of 12 plants per residence, even if more than two adults live there.
Reminiscent of the Arizona medical marijuana program’s growing rule, the “25-mile rule” may be better than nobody at all being allowed to grow. But simply put, this unjust type of location-based prohibition of home cultivation cannot be allowed to become the norm.
Provisions in the law also permit for the possession and sale of marijuana-related paraphernalia as well as the gifting of small amounts of cannabis for no financial remuneration. Public use of the plant remains a civil violation.
Separate provisions in the statute also license the commercial production and retail sale of cannabis, which will be subject to a 15 percent excise tax. Those regulations do not take effect until January 1, 2018.
The victory reminds us of just how much progress is being made. Just a few years ago, a billboard on the interstate into Nevada bore the message, “DON’T GAMBLE with MARIJUANA. IN NEVADA; POSSESSION – 20 YEARS! SALE – LIFE!”
Cannabis remains a Schedule I substance under the federal Controlled Substances Act, meaning it is officially considered more dangerous than cocaine and methamphetamine, both of which on Schedule II.
Until federal laws are changed, the entire industry is subject to a crackdown, which is a stark possibility under incoming Attorney General, pot-hating prohibitionist Jeff Sessions. That’s assuming the U.S. Senate is dumb enough to confirm him… but then again, it IS controlled by the GOP.