Nevada marijuana law permits recreational marijuana cultivation of up to 6 plants (a maximum of 12 per household) only if the grower is more than 25 miles from the nearest licensed dispensary. Growing more than 12 plants is a felony, though the court typically grants probation instead of Nevada State Prison.
Common defenses to Nevada charges of cultivating weed include:
- The defendant had no knowledge the pot was growing on his/her property, or
- The defendant had a valid medical marijuana card, and he/she was too ill or lacked means to travel to a dispensary
Even though Nevada recently legalized recreational marijuana, courts still take cultivation crimes very seriously. And growing 50 lbs. or more of pot is prosecuted as trafficking, even if it is just for personal use.
In this article, our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys answer frequently-asked-questions about Nevada laws for cultivating marijuana, including punishments, defense strategies, record seals, and immigration consequences. Click on a topic to jump to that section:
- 1. Is it legal to grow your own pot in Las Vegas, NV?
- 2. Can I go to jail for growing marijuana in Las Vegas, NV?
- 3. How do I fight the charges?
- 4. Can I get my record sealed?
- 5. Can I get deported for growing marijuana?
- 6. Related offenses
1. May I cultivate my own marijuana in Las Vegas, Nevada?
Recreational pot cultivation is permitted under very limited circumstances. Only people who live more than 25 miles from the nearest dispensary are allowed to grow pot. In reality, this rule outlaws anyone in Clark and Washoe Counties.
Furthermore, the few rural Nevadans who live more than 25 miles from a dispensary may grow no more than six (6) plants per person. And no household may have more than twelve (12) plants. Finally, the marijuana must be cultivated in an enclosed space not viewable by the general public (so not near a window where people from the street can see).
Note that “cultivation” comprises “growing” as well as the following actions:
- propagating, or
Obviously, commercial growers with a valid registration card from the Nevada State Health Division operate by a different set of rules.1
1.1. Medical Marijuana Patients
People with valid Nevada medical marijuana cards follow slightly laxer rules. They may grow their own marijuana plants only if:
- the dispensary is unable to supply the marijuana to the cardholder, or
- the cardholder is too ill to travel to the dispensary, or
- the cardholder lacks transportation to travel to the dispensary, or
- there is no dispensary within 25 miles of the cardholder
And cardholders may not possess more than 12 marijuana plants, mature or immature.2
2. Can I go to jail for growing my own marijuana in Las Vegas, Nevada?
Usually not for a first offense. And it is often possible to get criminal charges reduced or dismissed through a plea bargain.
The specific penalties depend on the circumstances:
2.1. Growing more than 12 plants (but less than 50 lbs.)
Illegally growing more than 12 plants is a category E felony in Nevada. It carries probation and a suspended sentence and the cost of cleaning and disposing of the marijuana and cultivation facility. But if the defendant has at least two prior felony convictions, the court can order:
- 1 to 4 years in Nevada State Prison, and
- maybe up to $5,000 in fines
Note that growing 50 lbs or more of marijuana is automatically prosecuted as trafficking, which carries much harsher penalties and steep fines.3
2.2. Violating other cultivation rules (NRS 453D.400)
Recreational growers face prosecution for either of the following acts:
- Cultivating marijuana within 25 miles of a licensed retail marijuana store;
- Cultivating marijuana plants where they are visible from a public place by normal unaided vision; or
- Cultivating marijuana on property not in the cultivator’s lawful possession, or without the consent of the property owner
The punishment for committing one of these offenses increases with each successive conviction:4
|NRS 453D.400 Violations||Penalties|
|3rd offense||Gross Misdemeanor|
|4th or subsequent offense||Category E felony|
2.3. Concentrated Cannabis
It is a category C felony for a recreational user to knowingly or intentionally extract concentrated cannabis. The penalty is 1 to 5 years in prison and possibly up to $10,000 in fines.5
3. How do I fight the charges?
The defenses available to defendants facing charges for growing marijuana in Nevada depend on the circumstances of the case. Two 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. The charges should be dismissed as long as the defendant can show Nevada medical marijuana laws permitted them to cultivate marijuana.
Note that Nevada law enforcement often learns of illegal marijuana growers by satellite images showing greenhouses or by unusual electricity usage. When prosecuting cultivation cases, the D.A. often presents photographs of the plants and lab results confirming that the specimens are indeed marijuana.
4. Can I get my record sealed?
Usually, yes. The waiting period to begin the record seal process depends on the specific charge:
|Classification of Cultivating Marijuana Charge||Record Seal Wait Time|
|misdemeanor (NRS 453D.400)||1 year after the case closes|
|gross misdemeanor (NRS 453D.400)||2 years after the case closes|
|category E felony (NRS 453.3393)||2 years after the case closes|
|category C felony (NRS 453.3393)||5 years after the case closes|
Note that any criminal charge that gets dismissed can be sealed immediately.6
5. Can I get deported for growing marijuana?
Probably not for growing a small amount, but it is a gray area. Aliens who have been arrested should seek legal counsel from an attorney right away to discuss their options for safeguarding their resident status. Learn more about the criminal defense of immigrants in Nevada.7
6. Related offenses
Additional marijuana crimes in Nevada are:
Return to our main page on Las Vegas Nevada marijuana laws.
Call us if you are facing a drug charge…
Arrested for “cultivating marijuana” in Nevada? Contact our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys 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.
Arrested in California? Go to our article on California cultivation of marijuana laws.
Arrested in Colorado? Go to our article on Colorado marijuana laws.
- NRS 453D.110; NRS 453D.400.
- NRS 453A.200.
- NRS 453.3393.
- NRS 453.3363, NRS 453.580
- NRS 453.3393
- NRS 179.245; NRS 179.255.
- Immigration and Nationality Act INA § 237(a)(2)(B)(i); 8 USC 1227(a)(2)(B)(i).