Marijuana Laws in Nevada Lawyers

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What are the Marijuana Laws in Nevada

Although many people think that Nevada's reputation as the home of "Sin City" means that it is lax on drug enforcement, this is definitely not the case.  In fact, Nevada has some of the harshest drug laws in the country, especially concerning minors.  Because Nevada makes little distinction between "hard drugs" and drugs like marijuana, it is important to know its laws carefully before you bring any drugs into the state (even legally).

What are Nevada's Laws on Marijuana Possession?

Nevada's main distinction in marijuana possession is not by weight, but by the age of the defendant.  While usually courts handle younger defendants with more leniency, in Nevada the penalties for youthful possession of marijuana is much stiffer than those for adults.  

Possession of ANY AMOUNT of marijuana by a minor (under 21) is automatically guilty of a felony offense, and can be sentenced to 1 - 4 years in prison (or juvenile facility, depending on your age) and a $5,000 fine.  However, probation is usually granted for first and second time offenders.  If you are arrested a third time (or if the amount of marijuana possessed is significantly over an ounce), then there is a presumption of imprisonment (meaning that, barring special circumstances, you will probably go to jail).  But even without any timed served, being convicted of a felony can have long lasting effects for your rights and employment.

For adults, marijuana possession is decriminalized (meaning it is a civil citation, like a traffic ticket), so the law is considerably more lenient.  Possession of any amount of marijuana is treated as a misdemeanor, and carries a $600 or $1,000 fine for the first and second offenses, respectively, but no prison sentence (though if the amount is significant, the court may prescribe drug treatment).  The third offense can carry up to a year in jail, and a $2,000 fine. 

All subsequent offenses are treated as felonies, and like the juvenile offenses, carry a $5,000 fine and 1 - 4 year prison sentence.

I am a Legal User of Medical Marijuana in my State.  Can I Bring it into Nevada?

Yes, but not without some hassles.  Nevada's Revised Statute 453A does legalize medical marijuana within the state, and even recognizes non-resident users in certain circumstances. 

For residents, medical marijuana users must have a registry identification card or be a designated "caregiver" of a card-holder.  To receive this card, you must apply to the Nevada Department of Agriculture with full medical documentation of your illness and the recommendation of your physician to take medical marijuana, and you may appoint one (and one only) primary caregiver who will also be allowed the protections of the medical marijuana act.  Cardholders or caregivers are allowed possession of up to one ounce of marijuana (collectively between them), and are immune from arrest or prosecution for drug possession, cultivation, trafficking, or paraphernalia possession (possession of paraphernalia can normally get you a six month prison sentence). The caregiver must offer his services FREE of charge, however. 

The bill also provides people who do not have a card, but would otherwise be fully qualified for one, to share in these protections.  So if you are from out of state, possess marijuana for medical reasons, and fit all the Nevada requirements for a card (a doctors note, no violent felonies, etc...), then you have a valid defense for possession (you may still be arrested, however).  

But it is very important to remember that the federal government does NOT recognize any medical marijuana, and can still prosecute you for possession regardless of any state laws.

What About Selling Marijuana to a Friend

This is where Nevada's harshest laws come into play.  Selling (or growing) any amount less than 100 lbs (even selling less than an ounce) is a felony, punishable by 1 - 6 years in prison on the first offense, 2 - 10 years on the second offense, and 3 - 15 on all subsequent offenses.  Each of these offenses additionally carries a $20,000 fine. 

The punishments for serious weight are even longer.  Any sale/cultivation of more than a 100 lbs but under a ton is an automatic 5 year felony.  Between 1 - 5 tons has a maximum 20 year sentence (and $50,000 fine), and anything over 5 tons is a mandatory sentence of life in prison (with the possibility of parole in 5 years). 

In addition, Nevada judges two other factors in determining sentences.  

  1. Any sale within 1000 feet of a school zone doubles all sentences and fines. 
  2. A sale to a minor (in any amount), will get a 1 - 20 year sentence on the first offense, and a mandatory life sentence on the second offense.

Do I Need a Lawyer?

If you have been arrested in Nevada for a marijuana crime, or have a legal prescription for marijuana and are thinking of going in state, it is very important to contact a Nevada criminal law attorney immediately.  The laws in this field are extremely harsh and frequently changing, so having up to date facts and advice can be the difference between a minor hassle and a prison sentence. 

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Last Modified: 11-23-2009 11:52 AM PST

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