Nevada voters made history on November 8, 2016 by producing the Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act. Under the Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act, residents and tourists over 21 years of age can legally purchase, possess and consume recreational cannabis in Nevada. Recreational cannabis use became officially legal in the Silver State on January 1, 2017 and recreational sales began July 1, 2017, however, these new laws do not permit a complete free-for-all in the state of Nevada. There are still a number of laws governing how consumers can acquire cannabis, how much they can purchase and possess, where they can and cannot consume it, who can cultivate it and how to properly transport it in a vehicle. Read on to learn more about how to properly transport cannabis in a car, a brief discussion of basic Nevada marijuana laws and what is currently prohibited related to cannabis in the state, including applicable penalties if laws are broken.
PotGuide.com notifies that adults 21 and older can legally possess one ounce of marijuana in the state of Nevada but when marijuana is being transported in a vehicle, it should be in a sealed container away from the driver and any minor passengers. Failure to do so could result in an “open container” fine or, in the case of minors riding in the vehicle, the much more severe citation “aggravating circumstance.”
As required by protocol in the state of Nevada, cannabis products purchased from licensed dispensaries are placed in bags, along with the receipt, sealed and handed to their customers prior to exiting the dispensary. This system is designed to assist law enforcement in the event of a traffic stop, which would allow the officer to open the bag, read the receipt and show that nothing has been consumed. After all, the state of Nevada only allows the consumption of cannabis within a private residence and not in vehicles or any public place.
In the event of a driver being stopped by law enforcement, and the police see or smell any cannabis “residue or material” via visual inspection, a search of the vehicle is immediately triggered. As long as the driver is not under the influence of marijuana, and there is less than one ounce of cannabis purchased from a licensed dispensary in a sealed container away from the driver and any minor passengers, the driver is considered to be fully abiding by legal cannabis laws in the state of Nevada. In this situation, no cannabis-related laws have been broken by the driver in possession of legal cannabis, and the driver should be free to go without citation or penalty. However, if the driver has committed any other violation or traffic infraction to cause the traffic stop, the driver would be subject to any applicable laws governing those infractions as determined by law enforcement.
Seasoned cannabis users recommend keeping cannabis sealed and in the trunk for longer distances. They advise that by locking it up in a suitcase or briefcase, the police will need a warrant to break the lock and search private property. This will also give the driver time to call a lawyer which, combined with the locked suitcase, may help prevent the police from continuing to engage and allow the driver to go free.
Driving Under the Influence of Marijuana
Driving under the influence (DUI) of recreational or medical marijuana in Nevada is a serious offense. In the eyes of the law, being found operating a motor vehicle while drunk or stoned is treated essentially the same, each coming with consequences including (but not limited to): license suspension, fines, community service, house arrest and/or jail time if convicted.
Law enforcement officials will determine if a driver is under the influence of marijuana by requesting either a urine sample or blood sample. If the urine sample detects at least ten nanograms of marijuana per milliliter or the blood test identifies two nanograms of marijuana per milliliter, the driver will usually be arrested for a DUI, just like drunk driving.
Possession and Use of Cannabis
Nevada criminal defense attorneys at ShouseLaw.com report that it is a misdemeanor to smoke or otherwise consume marijuana in a public place, retail marijuana store or a moving vehicle. The punishment is a $600 fine. Law enforcement typically will issue a citation, similar to a traffic ticket, for smoking pot in public, and that the police usually reserve making arrests for suspected drug dealers or traffickers. Other places where using cannabis is illegal includes hotel rooms, casinos, schools and universities, dorm rooms, common areas in apartment buildings, offices buildings, restaurants, bars, stadiums, public restrooms and federal property.
According to ShouseLaw. com a first-time offense of possessing more than one ounce of marijuana, or more than 12 marijuana plants, is a category E felony in the state of Nevada. If convicted of a category E felony for just a first or second conviction of marijuana possession, consequences can be as severe as four years in prison, or it may be possible to get probation, fines and community service instead of incarceration.
ShouseLaw. com reminds us that federal law still prohibits marijuana possession, and anyone who purchases, possesses and consumes recreational cannabis risks prosecution by federal authorities. They mention that it is highly unlikely that the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) will crack down on recreational users who follow state rules and enjoy cannabis only at home.
State To State
Alison Malsbury, a Canna Law Group attorney explains that federal law prohibits the transportation of any federally restricted substance across state lines, even if the previous location or next destination has legal marijuana laws. Malsbury says this is because section 812 of Title 21 of the U.S. Code, the Schedule of Controlled Substances makes no distinction between a legal state, a medical state or an illegal state. Malsbury warns that violating this section is a federal crime and could land cannabis users a drug trafficking charge, even for the lowest tier of cannabis possession. Section 812 of Title 21 of the U.S. Code doesn’t care if you are crossing state lines with a single gram of cannabis or 50 kilograms of cannabis – the penalty remains the same. The penalty for a first offense includes up to 5 years in federal prison and a $250,000 to $1 million fine. The penalty for a second offense includes up to 10 years in federal prison and a $500,000 to $2 million fine. That being said, the chances of the DEA sitting at the border of each state waiting to catch someone for pot is not practical or worth their time. Crossing country borders with cannabis is treated completely differently and should be completely avoided.