Nevada Officially Legalizes Recreational Marijuana

By McCarton Ackerman 01/04/17

Back in November, 55% of Nevada voters approved the marijuana legalization initiative. 

Welcome To Nevada sign featuring weed insignia.

Nevada kicked off 2017 by becoming the seventh U.S. state to officially eliminate criminal penalties associated with adult possession and use of marijuana.

Legal recreational marijuana became a reality for Nevadans on Jan. 1. Question 2, also known as the Nevada Marijuana Legalization Initiative, was approved by 55% of voters on Election Day. Residents can now possess up to one ounce of marijuana or an eighth of an ounce of marijuana concentrates at any given time. Adults may also grow up to six marijuana plants in their home if they live more than 25 miles away from a dispensary.

“What happens in Vegas doesn’t always stay in Vegas,” said Erik Altieri, Executive Director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), to Weed News. “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.”

The state’s Department of Taxation is currently working on temporary regulations that will allow certain recreational products to be sold at licensed medical shops. The department has until Jan. 1, 2018, to put official regulations in place to govern marijuana sales, but the temporary efforts could take effect as soon as this summer.

Employees can still be tested for marijuana use and fired for a positive result. In addition, Question 2 specifically bans smoking marijuana in any public setting and those who break that law could face a misdemeanor charge and $600 fine. The Nevada Gaming Commission officially stated in November that marijuana use should not be permitted at any casinos in the state since these establishments abide by federal law. 

But with 42 million visitors arriving in Sin City each year, some city officials are looking for ways to cash in on marijuana tourism. State Sen. Tick Segerblom put in a bill request that would give local governments the ability to allow pot use in certain public areas they deem suitable.

“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,” said Segerblom. “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.”

Other states are also implementing new marijuana measures this month. Florida’s legalization of medical marijuana went into effect on Tuesday, while in Maine, recreational marijuana will officially be legal on Jan. 30.

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.