On the Nevada Ballot: Legalization of Marijuana

The biggest issue on voters’ minds this year is the next POTUS, but Nevadans also have a few important state measures to consider. Learning about each question on the upcoming ballot will help you vote with confidence as an educated Nevada citizen. Question 2, the Initiative to Regulate and Tax Marijuana, on the November 8, 2016, ballot deals with the issue of recreational marijuana legalization. Here’s what you need to know.

Current Status of Marijuana in Nevada

Recreational marijuana use as well as medical use are currently illegal under federal law, although the Department of Justice under President Obama does not typically prosecute businesses and individuals abiding by statewide marijuana laws. Question 9 on the Nevada ballot back in 2000 legalized medical marijuana, but using marijuana for recreational purposes remains illegal. Question 2 on this year’s ballot is an indirect initiated state statute that would change the state law to legalize recreational marijuana.

About Question 2 on the Ballot

In basic terms, the Initiative to Regulate and Tax Marijuana would make some recreational marijuana use legal in Nevada. Four other states also have initiatives to legalize recreational marijuana on the November 8, 2016, ballot – Arizona, California, Maine, and Massachusetts. The details of Question 2 on the Nevada ballot are as follows:

  • Adults age 21 and older could legally possess, consume, and cultivate a certain amount of marijuana for recreational purposes in Nevada.
  • An individual 21 years old or older could purchase, possess, and consume a maximum of one ounce of marijuana or one-eight of an ounce of concentrated marijuana.
  • Individuals 21 years old and older could legally grow up to six marijuana plants for personal use. Plan cultivation would have to take place in an enclosed space with a lock.
  • The law would regulate and authorize marijuana retail establishments, cultivation and manufacturing facilities, testing sites, and distributors.
  • A new 15% excise tax would exist, with revenue generated from the tax given to schools and to enforce the measure.

The proposed measure would not allow legal marijuana establishments to exist within 1,000 feet of schools or 300 feet of a community center. There would be a limit on how many retail marijuana stores the law permits in each county, according to population size. These limits would be up to two stores in counties with populations less than 55,000, up to four stores in counties with 55,000 to 100,000 people, up to 20 stores in counties with 100,000 to 700,000 people (Washoe County), and up to 80 stores in counties with populations greater than 700,000. In Nevada, the only county with more than 700,000 people is Clark County.

Marijuana cultivation facilities would impose the 15% tax on recreational marijuana sales. Depending on the type of license to sell recreational marijuana, the costs of licensing would range from $3,300 to $30,000. The tax money generated by marijuana sales would first go to local governments to cover the costs of the initiative, and then to the State Distributive School Account.

Details About Initiative Enforcement

If Question 2 passes into law, the government could still implement and enforce policies that prohibit citizens from driving under the influence of marijuana, selling marijuana to those under 21, possessing marijuana on school grounds, or using marijuana at work. There would also be new penalties for growing marijuana in public, smoking in public or in a moving vehicle, and giving marijuana to people under the age of 21.

The “Yes on 2” campaign in Nevada has raised over $1 million in support of the measure, mostly thanks to the Marijuana Policy Project. Polls show about 51% support for Question 2. Voting “yes” on Question 2 supports the legalization of regulated recreational marijuana in Nevadans 21 years or older. Voting “no” retains the current state laws, keeping recreational use of marijuana illegal.