Nevada's "Medical Marijuana" Laws


Nevada's medical marijuana program allows cardholders to possess 2.5 oz. of pot for medicinal purposes. In order to be eligible, a licensed physician has to determine that the patient suffers from either cancer, PTSD, AIDS, glaucoma, cachexia, severe pain or nausea, seizures, or persistent muscle spasms. 

The application process for a medical marijuana card may be completed online. The card lasts only 1 or 2 years, but membership may be renewed. Cardholders and their designated caretakers must follow various rules regarding consumption, purchasing, and cultivation. Otherwise, they face criminal charges for possession or more serious offenses.

Although Las Vegas Nevada marijuana laws now permit recreational marijuana, the medical marijuana program is still relevant and useful to suffering patients for several reasons:

  • Cardholders may possess 2.5 times more weed than the 1 oz. recreational users are allowed to possess;
  • Medicinal marijuana is not subject to the 10% sales tax that recreational users pay;
  • Cardholders may be under 21, whereas recreational users must be 21 or older; and
  • Cardholders may cultivate their own marijuana if they are too ill or lack means to travel to a dispensary, whereas recreational users may not grow plants unless they live more than 25 miles from the closest dispensary

Started in 2001, the medical marijuana program currently serves about 28,308 patients. If this article, our Las Vegas criminal defense lawyers answer 40 frequently-asked-questions about the Nevada medical marijuana program. Click on a topic to jump to that section:

Medical 20marijuana
Nevada's medical marijuana program allows cardholders to possess 2.5 oz. of pot.

1. Why does Nevada still have a medical marijuana program?

Patients with valid medical marijuana cards in Nevada get more benefits than people without a card:

Cardholders do not have to pay the 10% retail excise tax that marijuana normally carries.1

And whereas recreational marijuana is available only to adults aged 21 and older, eligible patients under age 21 may use medical weed.2

As discussed in the next question, cardholders also have laxer rules for possessing and growing pot.

2. Do cardholders have more rights to grow and possess pot than recreational users?

Yes.

A medical weed card entitles the patient to up to 2.5 oz. of pot (within a 2 week period).3 Non-cardholders are limited to one ounce (1 oz.) at a time.4

Medicinal marijuana cardholders who live within 25 miles of a retail store may grow their own pot if they are too ill or lack means to travel (or if the retail store does not carry the strain of pot they need).5 Non-cardholders may never grow their own pot if they live within 25 miles of a retail store.6

3. Can people under 21 get registry identification cards in Nevada?

Yes. For minors (under 18), their custodial parent or guardian must sign a "minor release" form in their application. Additionally, this custodial parent or guardian must act as the minor's designated primary caregiver.7

4. How has Nevada's medical pot program changed since recreational pot became legal?

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The application process can now be done online. And registry identification cards can now last up to two years instead of just one.8

5. How does Nevada's medical marijuana program work?

First your physician must determine that you suffer from one of the diseases protected under the marijuana program. Then you may apply to the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services to register with the program. If the state approves your application and you pay the registration fees, you will receive a registry identification card.

A registry identification card is good for one or two years (as determined by your doctor). And it allows you to possess up to two and one-half ounces (2.5 oz.) of usable marijuana total in any 14-day period.9

The process of applying for a registry identification card...and the strict rules you must follow...are discussed in detail in the following questions.

Note that it is now legal for anyone aged 21 and older in Nevada to possess up to one ounce (1 oz.) of marijuana.10

6. Can police arrest me for using medicinal marijuana in Las Vegas, Nevada?

Cardholders who follow all the program rules should not face arrest by state or local police.11 But note that Nevada law prohibits driving under the influence of marijuana.12

7. Can the feds arrest me for using medicinal marijuana in Las Vegas, Nevada?

Yes, but chances are that federal authorities will not come after medical pot users. Currently, the Drug Enforcement Administration is focusing its efforts on large-scale drug traffickers and not patients and their caregivers.13

8. How do I apply for a Nevada registry identification card?

Click here and follow the instructions. The entire process can be done online (though it is necessary to print the paperwork for a doctor's signature). Registration costs $50 for one year, or $100 for two years.

People who prefer to print out the application and mail it in can click here.

Note that people who hold a commercial drivers license from any state may not obtain a registry identification card.14

9. Do I need a physician to apply?

Yes. Any Doctor of Medicine (MD) or Doctor of Osteopathy (DO) licensed in Nevada will do.

10. What illnesses qualify me for a Nevada medical marijuana card?

Either of the following nine conditions:

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  1. Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS)
  2. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  3. Cancer
  4. Glaucoma
  5. Cachexia
  6. Severe pain
  7. Severe nausea
  8. Seizures, including without limitation, seizures caused by epilepsy
  9. Persistent muscle spasms, including, but not limited to, spasms caused by multiple sclerosis

If your medical condition is not listed above, you may still try to apply for a card.15

11. Can my caregiver help administer my marijuana?

Yes. Each cardholder can designate one (1) and only one primary caregiver to help administer the medicinal marijuana.16

12. Who can be my designated primary caregiver?

Your designated primary caregiver can be anybody over the age of eighteen (18) and approved by your physician. However, the designated primary caregiver cannot also be a medical weed user. And the designated primary caregiver may not serve any other medicinal weed patients.17

13. What does a registry identification card cost?

A card costs $50 for one year, or $100 for two years.18

14. May I use marijuana while my application is pending?

Yes, you may possess medicinal marijuana in compliance with the program's guidelines pending the application's approval. If law enforcement questions your right to possess the marijuana, present them with a copy of your application.19

15. Are Nevada medical marijuana cards good for life?

No. Membership lasts only one (1) or two (2) years, as determined by your physician. You may reapply before the term ends.20

16. Why would my application be denied?

Common grounds for denial into Nevada's medical marijuana program are the following:

  1. Providing false or incomplete information on your application

  2. Not providing proof of your qualifying medical condition

  3. Not providing proof that you have consulted with your physician about using medicinal marijuana

  4. If the physician backing your application is not licensed or not in good standing

  5. If you are under eighteen (18) years old and your parent or guardian did not sign the required statement for your application

  6. If you or your designated primary caregiver has ever been convicted of selling drugs

  7. If you or your designated primary caregiver has ever possessed drugs in jail or delivered drugs to someone in jail

  8. If you have failed to follow any other regulations mandated by the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services

  9. If the Nevada State Health Division has ever previously prohibited you from ever obtaining a registry identification Card.

17. May I reapply if my application is denied?

Mm smoker

Yes, six (6) months after the date you were denied. But you may reapply right away if your application was denied solely because it was incomplete.21

If your membership ever gets revoked, then you may not reapply for another twelve (12) months.22

18. What if I cannot afford a medical marijuana card?

Unfortunately, Nevada will not waive the cost. And most health insurance companies will not cover it.23

19. How much medicinal marijuana can I have in Nevada?

The cardholder and caregiver may together possess two and one-half ounces (2.5 oz) total of usable marijuana total in any 14-day period.24 Usable marijuana usually refers to seeds, dried leaves and buds, or any kind that is immediately ready to be smoked. Usable marijuana does not include the stalks and roots of the plant.25

If a dispensary is not available to sell you medicinal marijuana, you may be able to grow and cultivate your own. (See the next question for more details). In that case, you and your caregiver may also possess up to twelve (12) marijuana plants total irrespective of whether they are mature or immature.26

Note that the patient and caregiver must keep the marijuana in a secure, enclosed location.27

20. Can cardholders grow marijuana in Las Vegas, Nevada?

It depends. Cardholders may grow their own marijuana only if:

  • their local dispensary is unable to supply the proper strain of marijuana to the cardholder, or
  • they are unable to reasonably travel to their local dispensary due to illness or lack of transportation, or
  • there is no dispensary within 25 miles

If cardholders meet any of these criteria, they may possess up to twelve (12) marijuana plants total irrespective of whether they are mature or immature. And the plants must not be viewable by the public.28

For more information, see our page on marijuana cultivation laws.

21. What are the penalties for possessing more than the maximum allowed marijuana?

The penalties increase with each successive conviction:29

Marijuana possession Penalty

1st offense

category E felony

The judge may order probation instead of jail.

2nd offense

category E felony

  • one to four (1 - 4) years in prison, and
  • maybe $5,000 in fines

The judge may order probation instead of jail.

3rd or subsequent offense

category D felony

  • one to four (1 - 4) years in prison, and
  • maybe $20,000 in fines

Note that possessing more than twelve (12) marijuana plants is a category E felony. The sentence is:

  • one to four (1 - 4) years in prison, and
  • maybe a $5,000 fine

For a first offense, judges may impose probation instead.30

Also note that possessing fifty pounds (50 lbs.) or more of marijuana is prosecuted as trafficking. The penalties can range from one year to a life sentence depending on the amount of pot involved.31

A skilled criminal defense attorney may be able to plea bargain marijuana charges down to a lesser offense or complete dismissal.

22. May I smoke marijuana in public?

Joint

No. Currently, it is legal to smoke marijuana only in a private residence. It does not matter whether the pot is medicinal or recreational.

The fine for smoking marijuana in public is $600.32

23. What if police arrest me for having more than 1 oz. of marijuana, and I don't have my card on me?

The case should eventually get dismissed as long as you can show the prosecutor that you are a cardholder and had less than 2.5 oz. of marijuana.

24. Can cardholders have guns?

Yes. But note that Nevada law prohibits people from physically controlling a firearm while under the influence of marijuana.33

Also note that patients with CCW permits may be eligible for a medical marijuana card in Nevada. But the reverse is not true: Existing medical marijuana patients who then apply for a CCW permit usually get rejected. 

Finally, note that federal law prohibits marijuana users or addicts to possess a firearm.34 But as long as the user stays home and is discreet about his/her guns, it is unlikely the feds will go after the cardholder.

25. What if I lose my registry identification card?

Email an image of the front and back of your state issued identification card (such as a driver's license) to [email protected] along with an explanation and request for a new registry identification card. You can also request a replacement card by fax or mail:

Nevada Division of Public and Behavioral HealthATTN: Medical Marijuana Division4150 Technology Way, Suite 101 Carson City, NV 89706

Fax 775-684-3213

26. How can I withdraw from Nevada's medical marijuana program?

Mail the Nevada State Health Division the following items:

  1. a letter informing them of your wish to withdraw
  2. your registry identification card
  3. if you have a designated primary caregiver, his/her registry identification card

Use the following mailing address:

The Nevada State Health Division 4150 Technology Way, Suite 104 Carson City, Nevada 89706

The Nevada State Health Division will write back a confirmation that you are no longer registered with the program. It is your responsibility to inform your designated primary caregiver that you are withdrawing. If you are not on good terms with your designated primary caregiver, you can ask the Nevada State Health Division to write him/her a letter asking that he/she return their card.

After you withdraw, you can always reapply.35

27. Are all my caregivers protected from prosecution?

Cuffs

No. Patients may designate only one (1) primary caregiver to administer medical weed. Any other caregivers are not immune from arrest. 36

28. May one caregiver serve more than one medicinal marijuana patient in Nevada?

No. A caregiver may not take on medicinal pot duties for more than one patient at a time.37

29. May I pay my designated caregiver for administering marijuana?

No. If the caregiver does charge, then he/she can be prosecuted for selling marijuana.

30. What are my employer's rights and obligations?

You should consult an attorney to advise whether you should inform your employer if you have a registry identification card.

Employers must accommodate employees who are medicinal marijuana cardholders as long as the following are true:

  • the accommodations would not endanger anyone or anything, and
  • the accommodations would not impose an undue hardship on the employer, and
  • the accommodations would not preclude the employee from fulfilling his/her duties38

31. Do I have to tell my landlord I have a medical pot card?

There is no law requiring you to inform your landlord if you are a legal medicinal marijuana user. But if you are found out, your landlord may evict you since marijuana is illegal under federal law.

32. Does my medical insurance cover medicinal marijuana in Las Vegas, Nevada?

Probably not.

33. What is the penalty for forging a registry identification card?

Forging, faking our counterfeiting a marijuana card is a category C felony in Nevada. The penalty includes:

  • one to ten (1 - 10) years in prison, and
  • possibly up to $10,000 in fines39

34. May I share my medicinal marijuana with other cardholders in Nevada?

Marijuana3 optimized

Yes, as long as no money or other payment is exchanged for it.

35. What other rules are there?

Cardholders and caregivers have to report any major life changes to the Nevada State Health Division within seven (7) days of the change. Examples include change of address, phone number, medical status, caregiver, physician, dispensary, or if the cardholder died.

If the cardholder or caregiver does not inform the Nevada State Health Division of these changes, he/she may face civil and criminal penalties and revocation of his/her registry identification card.40

36. Does my information remain private?

Yes. The Nevada State Health Division maintains the confidentiality of all cardholders and applicants, including the identities of the patients, primary caregivers, and physicians.

However, the Department of Health and Human Services may release your information to law enforcement if they need to verify whether you are registered. 41

37. Where can I buy medicinal marijuana?

Click here for a list of licensed dispensaries. Cardholders choose one designated dispensary to use.

38. Does Nevada recognize other states' medicinal marijuana cards?

Yes. Out-of-state residents may obtain medical marijuana in Nevada under the following conditions:

  • The non-resident has a valid, non-expired medical marijuana card from his/her home state, and
  • The non-resident's home state exempts cardholders from criminal prosecution for medical marijuana use, and
  • The law of the non-resident's home state requires that physicians advise patients that medical marijuana use may help their symptoms as a precondition to the state issuing patients a medical marijuana card, and
  • The non-resident signs an affidavit which sets forth that he/she is entitled to engage in the medical use of marijuana in his/her state or jurisdiction of residence

Note that the non-resident must abide by Nevada's rules regarding quotas for possessing medical marijuana. It is irrelevant whether his/her home state allows cardholders to possess more medical marijuana than Nevada does.42

39. Do other states recognize medical pot users from Nevada?

There are no reciprocal agreements with other states. Before traveling to another state, contact that state's government for the latest laws.

40. What other states have medicinal marijuana programs?

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States with medical marijuana programs
State Possession Limit

Alaska

1 oz usable; 6 plants (3 mature, 3 immature)

Arizona

2.5 oz usable; 12 plants

Arkansas

3 oz usable per 14-day period

California

8 oz usable; 6 mature or 12 immature plants

Colorado

2 oz usable; 6 plants (3 mature, 3 immature)

Connecticut

2.5 oz usable

Delaware

6 oz usable

Florida

Amount to be determined

Hawaii

4 oz usable; 7 plants

Illinois

2.5 ounces of usable cannabis during a period of 14 days

Maine

2.5 oz usable; 6 plants

Maryland

30-day supply, amount to be determined

Massachusetts

60-day supply for personal medical use (10 oz)

Michigan

2.5 oz usable; 12 plants

Minnesota

30-day supply of non-smokable marijuana

Montana

1 oz usable; 4 plants (mature); 12 seedlings

New Hampshire

2 oz of usable cannabis during a 10-day period

New Jersey

2 oz usable

New Mexico

6 oz usable; 16 plants (4 mature, 12 immature)

New York

30-day supply non-smokable marijuana

North Dakota

3 oz per 14-day period

Ohio

Maximum of a 90-day supply, amount to be determined

Oregon

24 oz usable; 24 plants (6 mature, 18 immature)

Pennsylvania

30-day supply

Rhode Island

2.5 oz usable; 12 plants

Vermont

2 oz usable; 9 plants (2 mature, 7 immature)

Washington

8 oz usable; 6 plants

Washington, D.C.

2 oz dried

West Virginia

30-day supply (amount TBD)

Rx call help4 optimized
Call our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys at 702-DEFENSE for a FREE consultation.

Arrested in Nevada?

Then contact our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys at 702-DEFENSE (702-333-3673) to schedule a free consultation.

Also see our informational article on how to open a medical marijuana dispensary in Nevada.

Return to our main page on Las Vegas Nevada marijuana laws.

To learn about California medical marijuana laws, go to our information page on The Compassionate Use Act of 1996.

To learn about Colorado medical marijuana laws, go to our information page on Colorado medical marijuana laws.


 Legal References

  1. FAQs for Marijuana Establishments, State of NV Dept. of Taxation.
  2. NRS 453D.020;  NRS 453A.210.
  3. NRS 453A.200.
  4. NRS 453D.110.
  5. NRS 453A.200.
  6. NRS 453D.400.
  7. NRS 453A.210.
  8. Medical Marijuana Cardholder Registry - FAQs, Department of Health and Human Services.
  9. Id.
  10. NRS 453D.110.
  11. NRS 453A.200.
  12. NRS 453A.
  13. 21 U.S.C. § 811; 21 U.S.C. 844.
  14. See Application For Commercial Driving Privileges, Nevada DMV.
  15. NRS 453A.050.
  16. NRS 453A.200.
  17. NRS 453A.080; NAC 453A.150.
  18. Medical Marijuana Cardholder Registry - FAQs, Department of Health and Human Services.
  19. NRS 453A.210.
  20. NAC 453A.130.
  21. NRS 453A.210.
  22. NRS 453A.225.
  23. Medical Marijuana Cardholder Registry - FAQs, Department of Health and Human Services.
  24. NRS 453A.200.
  25. NRS 453A.160.
  26. NAC 453A.080.
  27. NRS 453A.300.
  28. NRS 453A.200.
  29. NRS 453.336.
  30. NRS 453.3393.
  31. NRS 453.339.
  32. NRS 453D.400.
  33. NRS 202.257.
  34. 18 U.S. Code § 922.
  35. Medical Marijuana Cardholder Registry - FAQs, Department of Health and Human Services.
  36. NRS 453A.250.
  37. Id.
  38. NRS 453A.800.
  39. NRS 453.331.
  40. NRS 453A.230.
  41. NRS 453A.700.
  42. NRS 453A.364.

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