Recreational Marijuana In Nevada
The Marijuana-pocalypse is finally here! On November 8, 2016, Nevada residents answered, “Yes!” to Question 2. And in case you’ve been living under a rock (or a giant-sized nugget of Blueberry Crush) and you haven’t heard of Question 2, it was the ballot initiative to legalize recreational marijuana in Nevada.
Here’s the question: now that it’s legal, how is recreational marijuana in Nevada actually going to work?
Last Wednesday night, I went down to the Wildhorse Golf Club in Henderson. That’s where Essence Dispensary was hosting its bi-weekly marijuana education program known as Wellness Wednesday.
This week’s topic was about Question 2 and what it means for medical marijuana patients and businesses. Amanda Connor (a lawyer who specializes in marijuana-related cases), and Riana Durrett (an attorney and Executive Director of the Nevada Dispensary Association) were the two panelists that evening.
They gave a great presentation. I can’t list everything that they covered, but here are the most important things I learned about recreational marijuana in Nevada.
Recreational Marijuana Won’t Become Legal Until Jan 1st.
Even though Nevada voted for recreational marijuana on November 8th, that doesn’t mean you can start lighting up just yet. The law doesn’t actually go into effect until January 1, 2017. That’s approximately 13 days from now.
Nevada Recreational Marijuana Sales Expected By 2018
I know. It sucks, but unfortunately, dispensaries still aren’t legally permitted to sell recreational marijuana to anyone.
In other words, you can own it; you just can’t buy it.
Medical marijuana patients faced the same situation from 2000 to 2014. They had to wait 14 years before the first dispensaries began to open.
Nevadans probably won’t have to wait that long before they can buy recreational marijuana, but they will have to wait. The Department of Taxation has until January 1, 2018, to come up with the necessary licensing regulations.
According to the Review-Journal, those licenses will be given only to the medical dispensaries for the first 18 months of licensing. Of course, all those applications have to be filled out, submitted, reviewed and then either approved or rejected.
So how much time are we talking here?
No one knows for sure exactly, but it’s possible that people might not be able to buy or sell recreational marijuana in Nevada until well into 2018.
This isn’t a good thing, and not just because of the long wait. If Nevadans can’t legally purchase recreational marijuana, many of them might turn to the black market, and none of us want that. That’s why the State of Nevada, marijuana dispensaries and concerned residents want this process to move forward as quickly as possible.
Recreational Marijuana and Medical Marijuana are VERY Different
If recreational marijuana is legal, should patients still go through the process of getting evaluated by a doctor so that they can get their medical cards?
The answer is “yes.” And I’m not just saying that because I happen to be writing for Dr. Green Relief!
First of all, you might have to wait up to two years before you can buy recreational marijuana. But you can purchase medical marijuana right now if you have a medical card.
Here are three more reasons why medical marijuana is still a necessary and valuable program here in Nevada.
1. You Can Possess More Medical Marijuana Than Recreational Marijuana
You can only purchase and possess 1 ounce of recreational marijuana at a time.
But you can purchase and possess up to 2.5 ounces of medical marijuana every 14 days. That means fewer trips to the dispensary. If you’re someone with limited mobility, that can make a huge difference.
2. Medical Marijuana Will Be Cheaper Than Recreational Marijuana
Nevada applies a 2% excise tax to all medical marijuana wholesale and retail sales. That 2% tax is added to the 8.15 % local sales tax, which comes to a total of 10.15%.
We already know that there will be a 15% excise tax on recreational marijuana wholesale sales. So what does that mean for recreational buyers?
Connor and Durrett said that the details of the recreational marijuana tax structure are still not set in stone. However, Milton Giron, a manager at Essence’s Henderson branch, told the Las Vegas Weekly that recreational users shouldn’t be surprised if that 15% excise tax also gets applied to the retail sales tax as well.
If it does, that would mean a whopping 23.15% tax on every purchase!
Even if no additional tax is applied to retail recreational sales, it’s hard to imagine that this 15% wholesale tax won’t trickle down to the consumer in some fashion, even if it just means higher retail prices.
Patients need affordable medicine. The medical program ensures that patients don’t get lumped in with recreational users. They’ll still be able to purchase their medicine at a reasonable price.
3. Medical Patients Are Allowed to Grow More Marijuana Plants
If a patient doesn’t live within 25 miles of a dispensary, he or she can grow up to 12 marijuana plants. Recreational users can only grow up to 6 plants.
There are exceptions to the 25-miles-from-a-dispensary rule. For example, if none of the dispensaries within than 25-mile radius carry the cannabis strain that you need to treat your illness, the law allows you to grow your own.
However, Connor and Durrett said that this is a very difficult argument to make to law enforcement because it’ll be up to you to prove that none of those dispensaries carry that strain. They or may not be receptive to this argument, so use it at your own discretion.
Can Medical and Recreational Marijuana Peacefully Co-Exist in Nevada?
We certainly hope so!
According to Connor and Durett, both the State of Nevada and the dispensaries want these two programs to thrive without harming one another. Colorado is making it work, and hopefully, Nevada will too.
To find out about Essence Dispensary’s next Wellness Wednesday event, visit this link.
And if you’re ready to get your Nevada medical marijuana card, you’re already in the right place. Go here to get started!