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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.

Nevada “Possession of Marijuana” laws

Updated July 1, 2020

It is now legal in Nevada to possess up to 1 oz. of marijuana. But using pot in public is still a misdemeanor, carrying a $600 fine. (In Las Vegas, pot use is legal in licensed social use venues.) And only adults 21 and older may possess pot for personal use unless they have a valid medical marijuana card.

Possessing more than 1 oz. of pot is still a felony under Las Vegas Nevada marijuana laws. And possessing 50 lbs. or more of weed is automatically prosecuted as trafficking, which may carry years in State Prison.

It is usually possible to seal criminal records for pot possession convictions 1 or 2 years after the case closes. Non-U.S. citizens convicted of marijuana possession face deportation if the amount was more than 30 grams.

Below our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys answer frequently-asked-questions about Nevada marijuana possession including definitions, penalties, defenses, record seal wait times, and immigration consequences. Click on a topic to go to that section.

1. Is possessing marijuana legal in Nevada?

Yes, with certain restrictions. It is now legal for adults 21 and older to possess up to one (1) oz. of marijuana (or up to 1/8 ounce of cannabis concentrate such as hashish) in Nevada. However, adults may consume the pot only in a private residence. 1

Pot use is now legal in licensed social use venues in Las Vegas. These social use venues may not be within 1,000 feet of a school or casino or within 300 feet of a church, and they may not serve alcohol.

Note that federal law still prohibits marijuana possession, and anyone who smokes pot risks prosecution by federal authorities. 2 But it is unlikely that the DEA will crack down on recreational users who follow state rules and smoke only at home.

1.1. Can I smoke pot in public?

No, as of now recreational marijuana in Nevada may only be consumed in private residences. 3 However, Las Vegas is licensing “lounges” where people may smoke a joint in public. Currently, state law prohibits being under the influence of drugs without a legal prescription. 4

1.2. Can I possess marijuana at a casino or in a hotel room?

No. Pot is prohibited throughout casinos and hotel property in Nevada, including in the privacy of a hotel room. Housekeeping staff who smell or find pot in hotel rooms may inform their superiors, who can then call the authorities. Therefore, tourists are advised not to bring or purchase weed in Nevada. 5

1.3. Can I smoke pot in a dorm room or at school?

No. Nevada’s secondary, undergraduate and graduate schools including UNLV follow a zero-tolerance drug policy for both students and staff.

Students found in violation of school policy may face expulsion, losing scholarships, and criminal charges for smoking in public. 6

1.4. Can I carry marijuana at airports?

It depends on the airport, but it is safer not to. Some airports such as McCarran International ban marijuana. 7 And federal law prohibits pot past TSA checkpoints and on planes. 8

1.5. Can I carry marijuana in local or state government buildings?

It depends on the building, so people should call in advance to learn the rules before attempting to carry marijuana inside. The safest bet is to leave the pot at home, especially since it would be illegal to consume the pot in a government building. 9

1.6. What rules can an employer impose on me?

Employers are free to prohibit pot in the workplace. Even if employers allow it, remember it is still against Nevada law to smoke anywhere but in a private residence.

Starting in 2020, Nevada employers are generally no longer allowed to pass over job applicants if they tested positive for marijuana. There are exceptions if the job is for:

  • firefighters,
  • emergency medical technicians,
  • a position where the employee has to drive for work (such as transportation professionals) and pass a screening test required by state or federal law,
  • a position for which the presence of marijuana could adversely affect others’ safety in the employer’s opinion,
  • a position where having marijuana in one’s system is in conflict with an employment contract or collective bargaining agreement,
  • a position where having marijuana in one’s system is inconsistent with federal law, or
  • a position that is funded by a federal grant

If an employer makes a worker take a screening test in the first 30 days of work, the employee can submit to another test to rebut the results of the initial test. The employer is required to accept and give consideration to the results of the second test. After the 30 days are up, employers can fire employees who test positive for marijuana. 10

1.7. What rules can my landlord or HOA impose on me?

Landlords and homeowner associations in Nevada have the right to prohibit pot from the premises and evict residents who violate their rules. Pot is still illegal under federal law, so property owners and HOAs are under no legal obligation to permit its consumption. Leases and CC&Rs typically have clauses about drug usage. 11

1.8. Can I drive with marijuana in my car?

Nevada law treats weed like alcohol when it comes to driving…

Driving under the influence of pot or with elevated cannabis levels is prosecuted as a DUI, just like drunk driving. Learn more about DUI with marijuana. 12

And just as drivers may not drink while driving or drive with an open container, drivers may not smoke pot while driving or drive with an open container of weed. Therefore drivers should keep their marijuana in a sealed bag locked away in the trunk or glove compartment. 13

Note that federal law prohibits crossing state lines with pot, even if pot is legal in both states. 14

1.9. Where else is marijuana possession restricted?

Pot is prohibited in all federal government buildings as well as federal lands. This includes national parks, forests and monuments, post offices, courthouses, airports, federal housing, and veterans administration buildings.

A first possession conviction under federal law can be punished by up to one (1) year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. 15

2. What is “marijuana possession” in Nevada?

The legal definition of marijuana possession encompasses actual, constructive, and joint possession:

  • Actual possession means physically holding or carrying the marijuana on one’s person. An example is keeping an edible in one’s pocket or purse.
  • Constructive possession means storing or keeping marijuana in a place the person has control over. Examples include one’s room, car, office, or storage facility.
  • Joint possession means when more than one person has possession of marijuana. An example is when two roommates keep their stash of weed in their living room.

The location of the marijuana is key to Nevada police deciding whether to arrest someone for marijuana possession. Cops may jump to the conclusion that a suspect is in possession of marijuana if they find marijuana on the suspect’s body, vehicle, home, work desk, or other location the suspect has control over.

A blood test that is positive for marijuana might also serve as evidence that a suspect possessed pot. This is because the suspect presumably exercises control over his/her body and therefore deliberately ingested the drug.

But note that there is no marijuana possession when the suspect did not know that the marijuana was there. If someone slips a joint in the suspect’s backpack without his/her knowledge, the suspect committed no crime because he/she was unaware of it. 16

3. Can I go to jail for marijuana possession in Nevada?

It depends on the circumstances:

3.1. Smoking pot in public

It is a misdemeanor to smoke or otherwise consume marijuana in a public place, retail marijuana store, or a moving vehicle. The punishment is a $600 fine. (Consuming is legal in a licensed social use venue in Las Vegas.)

Note that the police typically issue a citation (similar to a traffic ticket) for smoking pot in public. Law enforcement usually reserves making arrests for suspected pot dealers or traffickers. 17

3.2. Possessing more than 1 oz. to less than 50 lbs. of pot

The punishment depends on the amount of marijuana and whether the defendant has past convictions. In some cases, the court will grant a deferral of judgment, which means that the court will dismiss the case if the defendant completes certain court-ordered terms. 18

Also note a criminal defense attorney may be able to plea bargain marijuana possession charges down to a dismissal.

See our page on drug possession (NRS 453.336) to learn more.

3.3. Possessing 50 lbs. or more:

Possessing fifty (50) pounds or more of marijuana is prosecuted as the harsher Nevada crime of trafficking. Penalties can range from one year in prison to a life sentence depending on the amount of pot in the case. 19

Note that even trafficking charges may be able to be negotiated down to lesser penalties or possibly a dismissal.

4. How do I fight marijuana possession charges in Nevada?

Two common defenses for marijuana possession charges in Nevada are (1) lack of awareness, and (2) lack of possession.

4.1. Lack of awareness

The accused must have been aware that he/she was in possession of the marijuana in order to convicted. 20 So if a house guest leaves a pound of pot underneath the homeowner’s couch without the homeowner’s knowledge, then the homeowner is not legally “in possession” under Nevada law because of the homeowner’s lack of awareness. Henderson criminal defense attorney Michael Becker gives another example:

Example: Harold borrows Samuel’s car to buy two ounces of pot in Henderson. Harold stashes the pot underneath the driver’s seat for later. The next day Samuel gets pulled over and consents to a search of the car. When the police find the marijuana, they arrest Samuel for pot possession and book him at the Henderson Detention Center.

Samuel had no idea the pot was there. If Samuel’s attorney can get Harold to admit that he was the one who bought the pot and put it in Samuel’s car without his knowledge, then the prosecutor may drop the marijuana charges against Samuel.

Common evidence criminal defense attorneys may use to try to show lack of awareness include eye-witnesses, phone records, and surveillance video.

4.2. Lack of possession

Another strategy for defending against marijuana possession charges in Nevada is to argue that the defendant never had possession of the marijuana. This argument is useful in cases where the marijuana is found in locations that the defendant did not have control over. North Las Vegas criminal defense attorney Neil Shouse gives an example:

Example: Harold and Samuel share a North Las Vegas apartment. Without Samuel’s knowledge, Harold buys two ounces of pot and stores it in a kitchen drawer. The person who sold Harold the pot was an informant, so the North Las Vegas Police get a search warrant for the apartment. After the police find the pot, they arrest both Harold and Samuel for pot possession.

During negotiations, Samuel’s attorney explains to the prosecutor that Samuel does not have exclusive control over the kitchen and did not know about the pot sale. If the prosecutor believes that Samuel never possessed the pot, the case against him should be dropped.

In these types of cases, the defense attorney would try to show that the defendant did not have sole control over the location where the marijuana was found. This defense helps cast reasonable doubt as to whether the defendant was responsible for the marijuana being there.

5. Can I get marijuana possession convictions sealed in Nevada?

Yes, usually. The waiting period depends on the class of crime for which the defendant was convicted. 21 Note that pot cases that get dismissed (where there is no conviction) may be sealed right away. 22

6. Can I be deported for possessing marijuana?

Yes, if the alien was convicted of possessing more than thirty grams (30 g.) of pot. 30 grams is about one ounce (1 oz.). 23

US immigration law imposes harsh consequences including deportation for drug-related convictions.

Any non-citizen facing criminal charges should retain counsel as soon as possible to try to get the charge dismissed or changed to a non-deportable offense. Learn more about the criminal defense of immigrants in Nevada.

7. Related offenses

Additional marijuana crimes in Nevada are:

Call a Nevada criminal defense attorney…

Arrested? Call our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys to schedule a free consultation. We may be able to get the charges lessened or dropped completely so your record stays clean.

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

Legal References:
  1. NRS 453D.400.
  2. 21 U.S.C. § 844; Shea Johnson, “First in the state, Las Vegas approves marijuana lounges,” Las Vegas Review-Journal (May 1, 2019).
  3. NRS 453D.400.
  4. NRS 453.411; Andrew Craft, Nevada could become first state to have marijuana lounges, Fox News (September 20th, 2017).
  5. See NRS 453D.400.
  6. See, e.g., Selected Nevada State College Policies.
  7. Michael Scott Davidson, Pot possession, advertising banned at Las Vegas airport, Las Vegas Review-Journal (September 5, 2017).
  8. See 21 U.S. Code § 955.
  9. NRS 453D.400.
  10. NRS 618.375; Nevada Assembly Bill 132 (2019).
  11. NRS 118A.
  12. NRS 484C.110.
  13. See NRS 484B.150.
  14. 21 U.S. Code § 812.
  15. 21 U.S. Code § 844.
  16. NRS 453.336.
  17. NRS 453D.400.
  18. NRS 453.336.
  19. NRS 453.339.
  20. NRS 453.336.
  21. NRS 179.255.
  22. NRS 179.245.
  23. INA § 212(h).

Nevada Marijuana Blog Posts:

Updated July 1, 2020 It is now legal in Nevada to possess up to 1 oz. of marijuana. But using pot in public is still a misdemeanor, carrying a $600 fine. (In Las Vegas, pot use is legal in licensed social use venues.) And only adults 21 and older may possess pot for personal use .

Updated July 1, 2020 It is now legal in Nevada to possess up to 1 oz. of marijuana. But using pot in public is still a misdemeanor, carrying a $600 fine. (In Las Vegas, pot use is legal in licensed social use venues.) And only adults 21 and older may possess pot for personal use .

Updated July 1, 2020 It is now legal in Nevada to possess up to 1 oz. of marijuana. But using pot in public is still a misdemeanor, carrying a $600 fine. (In Las Vegas, pot use is legal in licensed social use venues.) And only adults 21 and older may possess pot for personal use .

Updated July 1, 2020 It is now legal in Nevada to possess up to 1 oz. of marijuana. But using pot in public is still a misdemeanor, carrying a $600 fine. (In Las Vegas, pot use is legal in licensed social use venues.) And only adults 21 and older may possess pot for personal use .

Possessing' up to 1 oz. of marijuana is legal in Nevada, but it is illegal to consume it outside of a private residence. Possessing more than 1 oz. of pot is a felony. Marijuana convictions can be sealed from a person's record after 1 year (for smoking in public) or 2 years (for possessing more than 1 oz.). ]]>