Marijuana Legalization on Ballot in Nevada

In November 2000, Nevada voters approved Question 9, which amended the state constitution to recognize the medical use of marijuana. On Tuesday, voters in the Silver State will decide whether to legalize recreational use of cannabis as well.

The Initiative to Regulate and Tax Marijuana, better known as Question 2, would let adults 21 years of age or older legally possess up to one ounce of marijuana or one-eighth of marijuana concentrates. Nevada is one of five states in the country to have recreational cannabis measures on the ballot.

If the initiative passes, it is likely that marijuana would not become as available as alcohol until January 1, 2018. According to the Las Vegas Sun, the 2017 Legislature would still be able to “make amendments and clarify technicalities” with the bill.

Legalized recreational use of cannabis in Nevada would not come without some limitations. Adults would only be able to consume marijuana on private property, as any public use of cannabis is punishable by a $600 fine. Additionally, people would only be able to grow as many as six plants for personal use if they live more than 25 miles from a medical marijuana facility.

According to the Sun, only Carson City and four Nevada counties currently allow for medical marijuana dispensaries, as the other dozen counties have banned them. Counties and local municipalities would have the right to vote on whether to allow recreational marijuana facilities, but they would not be able to completely ban recreational cannabis use.

Whether the measure will pass remains unclear. An October 26 KNTV/Rasmussen Poll showed 53 percent of Nevada residents were in favor of Question 2, but Anthony Williams, special projects director of poling company Bendixen & Amandi International, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that supporters “would really want to have 55 to 60 percent support” in order to feel confident. “These things always tend to leak oil heading into the end,” Williams said.

Criminal Defense Attorney for Marijuana Crimes in Las Vegas, NV

Question 2, if passed, would remove all legal penalties for adults 21 years of age or older who allegedly possess one ounce of marijuana or one-eighth of an ounce of concentrated marijuana. The same criminal penalties would apply for alleged offenders who possess more than one ounce of cannabis.

Under current state law, simple possession of one ounce or less of marijuana is a misdemeanor for first and second offenses, a gross misdemeanor for third offenses, and a category E felony for fourth or subsequent offenses. Convictions result in possible incarceration and steadily increasing fines.

According to the Drug Policy Alliance, marijuana-related charges in Colorado (not including Denver) decreased by 80 percent between 2010 and 2014, with an “overwhelming majority” of the decrease coming in the aftermath of Amendment 64, the 2012 constitutional amendment allowed for the personal possession, cultivation, and private use of marijuana for people over 21 years of age. Colorado Judicial Branch data showed the following statistics for marijuana charges in Colorado courts (which does not include possession data for Denver because of differences between local ordinances and State Criminal Code):

Year Possession Distribution Cultivation Total
2010 8,736 1,077 423 10,236
2011 8,501 987 415 9,903
2012 8,978 930 419 10,327
2013 2,739 553 144 3,436
2014 1,922 23 91 2,036

If Nevada were to legalize recreational use of small amounts of marijuana, countless people could be spared the many serious consequences that come with being convicted of these kinds of offenses. People who are arrested for any kind of marijuana-related crime in the Silver State should be sure to immediately contact a Las Vegas criminal defense lawyer for help possibly getting the criminal charges reduced or dismissed.

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