States increasingly looking to Nevada as a model


Last update: November 5, 2018
Following a successful voter initiative on November 8, 2016, the state rolled out its current program, with many businesses starting cannabis sales for adults 21 and over in July 2017. A year later, the program continues with little drama. Following early concern about transport licenses, and later about inventory and supply levels as the popular program launched last year, access is available for those who want it, and the program now simply works.

On November 8, 2016, 55% of Nevada voters approved Question 2, which legalized, taxed, and regulated marijuana for adults 21 and older. The Marijuana Policy Project played a leading role in the campaign, which faced well-financed opposition, including $3.5 million from casino magnate Sheldon Adelson. Many thanks to everyone who volunteered, donated, talked to friends and family, and voted! We couldn’t have done it without you.

Currently under state law, adults can purchase a personal-use amount of cannabis, but are unable to consume it outside a residence. Regulators and local jurisdictions are considering options, including locations where adults may be able to gather in a regulated environment, although those discussions are still in the early stages. Like similar jurisdictions, while sales and possession are available, it is less clear where adult consumers can consume outside a private residence. We hope regulators and local officials can work out a solution soon, particularly for tourists who visit the Silver State.

Current marijuana laws in Nevada


Possession of one ounce or less of marijuana or 3.5 grams or less of concentrated marijuana is legal for adults 21 and older.

Retail marijuana stores are operational.

Cultivation of up to six marijuana plants is legal for adults 21 and older if they reside 25 miles or more away from an operating retail marijuana store.

Medical marijuana is permitted. An individual may register as a medical marijuana patient if his or her doctor certifies that the individual suffers from one or more of the following conditions:

  • Acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS)
  • Cancer
  • Glaucoma
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Cachexia (general physical wasting and malnutrition from chronic disease)
  • Persistent muscle spasms (including multiple sclerosis)
  • Seizures (including epilepsy)
  • Severe nausea
  • Severe pain
  • Additional conditions, subject to approval

Patients can purchase marijuana from registered marijuana dispensaries, a registered caregiver, or grow their own if they live more than 25 miles from an operating medical marijuana dispensary.

Medical marijuana program continues to grow


The state’s medical marijuana program continues to operate. As of February 2018, about 21,000 patients were registered in the program, a slight drop from previous years. Patient numbers appear to have leveled off after a period of rapid growth in 2015 and 2016, when medical marijuana dispensaries emerged, making access an option for the first time for many patients.

How do medical marijuana patients visiting Nevada get access while in the state?


One of the positive features of Nevada’s medical marijuana law is that the state recognizes the patient status of non-residents who are qualified under their state government’s laws. The medical marijuana dispensaries in Nevada are authorized to sell medical marijuana to patients from other medical marijuana states if the patient presents a government-issued medical marijuana card from his or her resident state. 

Timeline of marijuana policy reform in Nevada


2000: Voters approved a ballot initiative legalizing medical marijuana for patients suffering from serious health issues.

2013: Nevada’s legislature enacted a law expanding the state’s existing medical marijuana program.

2016: Voters approved a ballot initiative legalizing marijuana for adults and establishing a regulated marijuana market.

Stay connected


Thank you for supporting MPP. To stay updated on the status of marijuana policy reform in Nevada, be sure to subscribe to MPP's free email alert service.