Updated July 1, 2020
Recreational marijuana is legal in Nevada. Only adults 21 and over may use it. They may not possess more than one ounce. And the marijuana must be kept and consumed in a private residence.
Only licensed dispensaries may sell marijuana. In 2021, public consumption may become legal in licensed social use venues.
On this page our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys provide an overview of Nevada marijuana laws:
- 1. Is recreational marijuana legal in Nevada?
- 2. Where can marijuana be purchased?
- 3. Is it legal to grow and cultivate cannabis?
- 4. Who is allowed to sell or distribute marijuana?
- 5. Can minors have marijuana?
- 6. Is DUI of marijuana a crime?
- 7. What are the medical marijuana laws?
- 8. Is marijuana still illegal under federal law?
- 9. Can the cases be sealed?
- 10. What are the immigration consequences?
Adults 21 and older in Nevada may possess up to one ounce of pot for personal use. Or they may possess up to 1/8 of an ounce of marijuana concentrate (such as hashish). Concentrate is the separated resin, either crude or purified.
It is illegal to consume pot outside a private residence. And residential owners may prohibit marijuana on their own property.
Examples of places where pot is illegal include:
- Hotel rooms,
- Schools and universities,
- Dorm rooms,
- Common areas in apartment buildings,
- Offices buildings,
- Public restrooms, and
- Federal property1
Las Vegas has legalized public pot consumption in social use venues. But the governor delayed this until 2021. However, people can currently consume pot legally in the Paiute cannabis lounge.2
Smoking weed in public is a misdemeanor carrying a $600 fine.
A first offense of having more than 1 oz. but less than 14 grams is a category E felony. Courts grant eligible defendants who plead guilty or no contest a deferral of judgment, which means the charge will get dismissed if the defendant completes various court-ordered sentencing terms. Otherwise, category E felony convictions carry probation and a suspended sentence. (But if the defendant has two or more prior felony convictions, the court may order one to four years of Nevada State Prison and a maximum of $5,000 in fines.)
- Learn more about marijuana possession laws (NRS 453.336)
In licensed dispensaries. Purchasers must show their ID. And they may not consume the pot until they get home.
On the drive home, the marijuana must remain in a sealed container. Ideally it should also be out of view in the trunk or glove compartment. Neither drivers nor passengers may consume pot in a vehicle.
Most dispensaries are in Las Vegas, Henderson, and Reno. A county’s population determines the number of dispensaries it can license.
Clark County has the most: 80 licenses. Washoe County has the second-most: 20 licenses. Carson City has four. And the remaining 14 counties have two licenses.
Local governments determine their dispensaries’ store hours. And the dispensaries must keep these hours conspicuously posted. Currently, Las Vegas dispensaries may operate between 6:00 A.M. and 10:00 P.M. And in Reno, closing must be no later than midnight.
Many dispensaries are licensed to sell both recreational and medical marijuana. Consumers of recreational marijuana pay a regular sales tax. Wholesalers pay a 15% excise tax. And retailers pay a 10% excise tax.3
Cultivating recreational weed is illegal with one exception. The grower must live more than 25 miles from a licensed dispensary.
People who do live more than 25 miles away may grow up to six plants. No household may have more than 12 plants total.
The plants must be located in an enclosed space such as a room, greenhouse, or closet. The space must have a lock or security apparatus. And the plants cannot be visible to the public. If the grower is not the property owner, the grower must get the owner’s permission.4
Growing more than the 12-plant maximum is a category E felony. Category E felony convictions carry probation and a suspended sentence, with a possible sentence of up to 1 year in jail. (But if the defendant has two or more prior felony convictions, the court may order one to four years of Nevada State Prison and a maximum of $5,000 in fines.)
The penalties for unlawfully growing weed within 25 miles of a licensed dispensary increase with each conviction:
Conviction for growing marijuana within 25 miles of a dispensary
|1st time|| Misdemeanor:|
|2nd time|| Misdemeanor:|
|3rd time||Gross misdemeanor|
|Subsequent time|| Category E felony|
Probation and a suspended sentence, with a possible jail sentence of up to 1 year. (But if the defendant has two or more prior felony convictions, the court may order:
- Learn more about marijuana cultivation laws (NRS 453.3393)
Only licensed dispensaries may sell and distribute pot in Nevada. Marijuana may not be driven or transported between state lines. It makes no difference if marijuana is legal in both states.
Marijuana also may not be sent through the mail. When the USPS detects marijuana, it may make the delivery only to arrest the recipient.5
A first-time offense of possessing pot with the intent to sell it is a category D felony. It carries one to four years in prison and possibly up to $5,000 in fines.
A first-time offense of selling pot is a category C felony. It carries one to five years in prison and possibly up to $10,000 in fines.
Any action involving 50 pounds or more of weed is prosecuted as trafficking. Depending on the weight, prison sentences range from one year to life.
It may be possible to get pot charges reduced or dismissed through a plea bargain.
- Learn more about marijuana possession for sale laws (NRS 453.337)
- Learn more about selling marijuana laws (NRS 453.321)
- Learn more about trafficking marijuana laws (NRS 453.339)
No one under age 21 may possess marijuana in Nevada. The only exception is people with medical marijuana cards.6
It is a misdemeanor for underage people to hold themselves out as 21 to obtain marijuana. The punishment is up to $1,000 in fines and/or up to six months in jail.
It is also a misdemeanor for people under 21 to loiter in dispensaries. The punishment is a $500 fine.
It is a gross misdemeanor to knowingly provide cannabis to a minor under 18. The punishment is up to $2,000 in fines and/or up to 364 days in jail. If the minor is over 18 but under 21, knowingly providing pot is only a misdemeanor. The penalty is up to $1,000 in fines and/or up to six months in jail.
Yes. Nevada law prohibits drunk driving and drugged driving. Even if the driver is not impaired, it is DUI per se to drive with the following marijuana levels:
- Blood: At least 2 nanograms per milliliter (or 5 nanograms per milliliter of marijuana metabolite);
- Urine: At least 10 nanograms per milliliter (or 5 nanograms per milliliter of marijuana metabolite)
- Learn more about driving under the influence of marijuana (DUID)
People of any age can apply for a medical marijuana card in Nevada. Their doctor just needs to sign off on it.
If the patient is under 18, his/her parent or guardian needs to sign the Minor Release Form. This parent or guardian also acts as the primary caregiver.
The card must be issued by Nevada or one of the following reciprocal states:
Cardholders may buy up to 2.5 ounces of usable marijuana within a 14-day period. Usable marijuana includes:
Patients can buy 2.5 ounces of one type of marijuana. Else they can buy a combination that amounts to 2.5 ounces. Patients may purchase their cannabinoids all in one dispensary. Or they may go to several dispensaries.
Dispensaries share customer information with each other. So they will not sell cannabis to patients who already met their limit.8
- Learn more about the Nevada Medical Marijuana Program.
Yes, marijuana is a Schedule I controlled substance under federal law. The feds are unlikely to bust recreational users or licensed dispensaries. But they could.
In addition, people caught with marijuana may be ineligible for federal financial aid. This includes:
- Work-Study programs;
- Pell grants;
- Perkins loans;
- PLUS loans; or
- Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants;
Marijuana users may also be ineligible for federal housing benefits. Marijuana users may not purchase a gun. And marijuana is banned on federal property. Examples include federal buildings, parks, and military bases.
Furthermore, businesses that accept large amounts of federal funding have to follow the Drug-Free Workplace Act of 1988.9
Yes, unless the case was for felony DUI. And there is a waiting period, unless the case was dismissed. The length of the wait depends on the crime.10
Category of cannabis conviction
Waiting period to get a Nevada record seal
|Misdemeanor (not including DUI)||1 year after the case ends|
|Misdemeanor DUI||7 years after the case ends|
Category E felony
|2 years after the case ends|
|Category D felony|
Category B felony (not including DUI)
|5 years after the case ends|
|Category A felony (not including vehicular homicide)||10 years after the case ends|
|Dismissal (no conviction)||Right away|
Learn more about sealing Nevada criminal records.
All marijuana crimes are deportable with one exception: Possessing 30 grams or less for personal use.
Non-citizens facing prosecution should hire an attorney immediately. The attorney may be able to get the charge dropped. Or he/she may get the charge reduced to a non-deportable offense.
¿Habla español? Más información acerca de las leyes de marihuana.
Arrested in California? Go to our article on California pot laws.
Arrested in Colorado? Go to our article on Colorado pot laws.
- NRS 453.336; NRS 453D.400; On November 8, 2016, Nevadans voted on Ballot Question 2 to legalize recreational marijuana. This is also called the Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act. It went into effect on January 1, 2017.
- Dan Hernandez, “‘The tribe has taken over’: the Native Americans running Las Vegas’ only cannabis lounge“, The Guardian (November 11, 2019).
- NRS 453D.210.
- NRS 453D.400.
- NRS 453D; 18 U.S.C. 1716.
- NRS 453D.400.
- NRS 484C.110.
- NRS 453A.
- Section 484 subsection R of the Higher Education Act of 1998; Federal Form 4473; 41 U.S.C. 8101-8106.
- NRS 179.245; NRS 179.255.
- 8 U.S.C. § 1227(a)(2)(B).