Recreational Marijuana in California and Nevada

Californians headed to Las Vegas to ring in 2017 should be familiar with the recently passed recreational marijuana laws in both states.

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Of particular importance is that due to federal law, which still prohibits both medical and recreational use of cannabis, marijuana may not be taken across state lines. So although recreational pot use will be legal in both California and Nevada as of 2017, Californians visiting Las Vegas can’t legally take a stash with them to Sin City, or transport cannabis products back home.

In November 2016, both California and Nevada voters passed ballot initiatives legalizing recreational marijuana — Proposition 64 in California and Question 2 in Nevada. However, recreational legalization is not without limitations. Individuals who use, sell, or cultivate marijuana outside of the strict legal rules of each state can potentially face stiff penalties if caught.

Because many Californians travel to and from Nevada — especially Las Vegas — it is important to understand the various nuances between the two states’ recreational marijuana provisions in order to avoid inadvertently breaking either state’s law.

Of particular importance is that due to federal law, which still prohibits both medical and recreational use of cannabis, marijuana may not be taken across state lines. States with legalized recreational marijuana require all cannabis products to be grown within and consumed within that state only. So although recreational pot use will be legal in both California and Nevada as of 2017, Californians visiting Las Vegas can’t legally take a stash with them to Sin City, or transport cannabis products back home. This is especially important to remember for anyone flying between California and Nevada; airport security is the responsibility of the Transportation Security Administration of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

 

LEGAL AGE

California: 21 years
Nevada: 21 years

EFFECTIVE DATE

California: Possession for personal use of not more than 28.5 grams of marijuana, or up to 4 grams of concentrated cannabis. [Cal. 11357 H&S]
Possession for personal use of not more than 1 ounce (28.35 grams) of marijuana, or up to 1/8 ounce (3.5 grams) of concentrated cannabis. [NRS 453.336]

CRIMINAL PENALTIES

California: Violation of state possession law is a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail and/or a $500 fine. Subsequent charges increase the penalties.

California: Distributing recreational marijuana to a minor is punishable by three to seven years in jail/prison, depending in part on the age of the minor.

Nevada: Violation of state possession law is a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail and/or a $1,000 fine and/or community service. Subsequent charges increase the penalties.

Nevada: Distributing recreational marijuana to a minor is punishable by up to one year in jail for a first offense up to life in prison for subsequent offenses.

HOW RECREATIONAL MARIJUANA CAN BE OBTAINED

California: Non-medical marijuana sales are not yet permitted. Marijuana or marijuana plants cannot be sold, but can be shared or given away. Individuals may grow up to six plants for personal use.
Nevada: Non-medical marijuana sales are not yet permitted. Individuals may grow up to six plants for personal use, but only if they live outside a 25-mile radius of a licensed recreational marijuana retailer – none of which yet exist.

AVAILABILITY OF LICENSED RECREATIONAL MARIJUANA RETAIL STORES  

California: January 1, 2018 is the deadline for issuance of sales licenses.
Nevada: The state Department of Taxation is charged with establishing licensing and other requirements necessary for retail sales. These regulations are expected to be put in place by the end of 2017.

TAXES

California: A 15% tax, plus sales tax will apply to licensed recreational sales.
Nevada: A 15% tax, plus sales tax will apply to licensed recreational sales.

DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE

California: It is illegal to consume marijuana and operate any vehicle, aircraft, boat, or similar vessel.The threshold limit to be considered legally intoxicated is five (5) nanograms of THC per milliliter of blood. [Cal. 23152(e) VC]
Nevada: It is illegal to drive while under the influence of marijuana. Penalties are similar to DUI alcohol. The threshold limit to be considered legally intoxicated is two (2) nanograms of THC per milliliter of blood. [NRS 484 (c)]

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