It is a crime to intentionally grow weed in Nevada unless specifically permitted by the Nevada Medical Marijuana Program or Nevada Medical Marijuana Dispensary Laws. And depending on the circumstances, a person alleged to be cultivating marijuana in Nevada may face additional charges of:
- The Nevada crime of possessing marijuana for personal use;
- The Nevada crime of possessing marijuana for the purpose of sale;
- The Nevada crime of selling marijuana; and/or
- The Nevada crime of trafficking marijuana.
In this article our Las Vegas criminal defense lawyers discuss the Nevada crime of "cultivating marijuana." Continue reading to learn Nevada Marijuana Laws, potential defenses, and possible penalties for growing pot in the state.
1) Definition of growing marijuana in Nevada:
Nevada law prohibits people from knowingly or intentionally manufacturing, growing, planting, cultivating, harvesting, drying, propagating or processing marijuana.1 The only two exceptions are the following:
- The grower has a valid registration card to grow marijuana from the Nevada State Health Division; or
- The grower is a card-holding Nevada medical marijuana patient and cannot get marijuana through a dispensary because of either:
- the dispensary is unable to supply the marijuana to the cardholder, or
- the cardholder cannot travel to the dispensary, or
- there is no dispensary within 25 miles of the cardholder
Nevada law enforcement often learn of illegal growers by satellite images showing greenhouses with marijuana, or unusual electricity usage indicative of a marijuana grower. When prosecuting marijuana cultivation cases, the D.A. often presents photographs of the plants and lab results confirming that the specimens are indeed marijuana.
2) Defenses for growing marijuana in Nevada:
The defenses available to defendants facing charges for growing marijuana in Nevada depend on the circumstances of the case. Some common strategies include:
- Lack of intent: Cultivating marijuana is not illegal in Nevada if the person had no idea he/she was growing it. For example, a person with a wild marijuana plant growing in his/her background is committing no crime as long as he/she does not realize the plant is marijuana. If the prosecutor cannot prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant knowingly or intentionally grew marijuana, the charges should be dropped.
- Medical Marijuana: Cultivating marijuana is legal as long as it is done in accordance with Nevada Medical Marijuana laws. If the grower is a patient, he/she can cultivate up to 12 marijuana plants as long as he/she cannot reasonably get marijuana from a dispensary and has a valid Nevada medical marijuana card. And if the grower is a seller, he/she must have a valid registration card from the Nevada State Health Division. As long as the defendant can show Nevada Medical Marijuana Laws permitted them to cultivate marijuana, charges should be dismissed.
- Entrapment: Although police may pose undercover for the purpose of catching a suspect in a criminal act, police may not trick suspects into committing offenses that they were not predisposed to commit otherwise. If the defense attorney can show that law enforcement entrapped the defendant to violate NRS 453.3393, then the charge should be dropped. Learn more about Nevada entrapment laws.
3) Penalties for growing marijuana in Nevada:
Growing, manufacturing, or otherwise processing more than 12 marijuana plants that weigh less than 50 pounds is a category E felony in Nevada. Note that it does not matter whether the plants are mature or immature.
For a first-time offense of violating NRS 453.3393, the judge may grant probation with no incarceration. However, the maximum sentence includes:
- 1 to 4 years in Nevada State Prison, and
- maybe up to $5,000 in fines, and
- the cost of cleaning and disposing the marijuana and cultivation facility
Nevada law is currently unclear as to the penalty for cultivating 12 marijuana plants or fewer, though presumably it carries similar or lesser penalties.2
A person shall not knowingly or intentionally extract concentrated cannabis, except as specifically authorized by the provisions of chapter 453A of NRS. A person who violates this subsection is guilty of a category C felony, carrying 1 to 5 years in Nevada State Prison and possibly up to $10,000 in fines.
Except as otherwise provided in chapter 453A of NRS, it is illegal to:
- Cultivate marijuana within 25 miles of a retail marijuana store licensed pursuant to sections 1 to 18, inclusive, of this act, unless the person is a marijuana cultivation facility or a person acting in his or her capacity as an agent of a marijuana cultivation facility;
- Cultivate marijuana plants where they are visible from a public place by normal unaided vision; or
- Cultivate marijuana on property not in the cultivator's lawful possession or without the consent of the person in lawful physical possession of the property;
If it is your first offense, it is just a misdemeanor in Nevada. You may face fines of up to $600 or be assigned to a drug rehabilitative treatment program.
If it is your second offense, it is still only a misdemeanor in Nevada. This time you will face a larger fine, up to $1,000, or you may be assigned to a drug rehabilitative treatment program. (NRS 453.3363, NRS 453.580)
If it is your fourth offense or greater, then it is a category E felony in Nevada. Unfortunately, the judge may then call for one to four years in the Nevada State Prison. You may be fined up to $5,000 as well. (NRS 193.130)
Cultivating Marijuana as Trafficking in Nevada:
Meanwhile, growing marijuana plants that total 50 pounds or more is instead prosecuted as the more serious Nevada crime of trafficking marijuana.3 The penalties depend on the amount of marijuana grown:
Cultivating 50 pounds to less than 1,000 pounds of marijuana is a category C felony in Nevada carrying:
- 1 to 5 years in Nevada State Prison, and
- $25,000 in fines, and
- maybe up to an additional $10,000 in fines
Cultivating 1,000 pounds to less than 5,000 pounds of marijuana is a category B felony in Nevada carrying:
- 2 to 10 years in Nevada State Prison, and
- $50,000 in fines
Cultivating 5,000 pounds or more of marijuana is a category A felony in Nevada carrying a fine of up to $200,000, and:
- life in Nevada State Prison with the possibility of parole after 5 years, or
- 15 years in Nevada State Prison with the possibility of parole after 5 years
Arrested? Call us...
Arrested for "cultivating marijuana" in Nevada? Contact our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys at 702-DEFENSE (702-333-3673) to schedule a free meeting. We may be able to persuade the prosecutors to reduce or dismiss your charges without a trial.
¿Habla español? Obtener información acerca de las leyes de Nevada para el cultivo de marihuana.
For information about California cultivation of marijuana laws, go to our page on California cultivation of marijuana laws.