Marijuana May Be Legal In Nevada, But Watch Out On The Strip

Posted on January 21, 2017

[toc]Jan. 8 marked the first day citizens of Nevada could legally possess recreational marijuana in the Silver State. Don’t think the new law means the flood gates are open on pot usage, though.

There are many caveats to the law to consider. And even though it may be legal in the state, it appears Las Vegas casinos will hedge their bets on the marijuana front and keep it restricted from casino properties.

Why NV casinos are playing it safe

A recent report from the newly launched Nevada Independent denotes several reasons why casinos will be more stringent than most when it comes to marijuana enforcement.

The law allows people in Nevada to possess up to an eighth of an ounce of recreational marijuana. What it does not allow is consuming that marijuana in a public place. So, by state law, any marijuana in clubs, restaurants, or gaming floors of the casinos themselves are not an option.

Where the law is more grey is the matter of whether or not hotel guests can use marijuana in their rooms at these properties.

The state law would suggest usage in a casino hotel room is fine. However, casino operators and regulators are concerned the stringent standards required to operate a casino in the state requires a different set of rules.

Nevada Gaming Commission (NGC) Chairman Dr. Tony Alamo told the Nevadan Independent:

“We’re coming at it from a regulatory standpoint. Our conversations are not about the revenue streams, better or worsening hotels and casinos. We are regulators that demand our licensees follow the statutes, regulations and policies of the state, federal government and  municipalities.”

Marijuana is not a federally approved drug. For that reason, the NGC is maintaining any drugs on any part the premises of a licensed casino could result in fines and punishments.

Current marijuana law is problematically hazy

Casinos may be clear cut in where marijuana can and cannot be used in Nevada. For others, the vaguely worded law is a bit too open-ended.

The measure was passed by voters as a legal referendum on the November election ballot. The law stipulates marijuana must be used on private property with the express permission of the owner.

Currently bars and restaurants as well as the soon-to-be-open marijuana dispensaries themselves are not allowed to permit smoking on the premises.

State Sen. Tick Segerblom is pushing to loosen the parameters on where marijuana can be consumed. He told the Las Vegas Sun the booming tourist industry creates a problematic dynamic for the new law and should be considered when defining where marijuana can be smoked.

It does seem the local government is motivated to make the new marijuana laws work in Nevada. Governor Brian Sandoval addressed his desire to tax marijuana at 10 percent when dispensaries open later this summer.

Marijuana users in Nevada should be careful. While the law is technically in effect, with no regulated dispensaries open in the state, the act of purchasing marijuana is still, by and large, illegal.

Marijuana cannot be brought in over state lines, mailed to you, flown in, or given to you by someone with a medicinal marijuana prescription without someone breaking the law.

Nevada police are not allowed to ask those holding less than an eighth of an ounce of marijuana how they obtained it, since possession of that amount is no a longer a crime.

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Jessica Welman Avatar
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Jessica Welman

Jessica Welman is a longtime member of the poker media. She has worked as a tournament reporter for the World Poker Tour, co-hosted a podcast for Poker Road, and served as the managing editor for WSOP.com. A graduate of the University of Southern California and Indiana University, Welman is not only a writer but also a producer. She has been involved for livestreams for the WSOP and WPT and worked as a consultant on many other poker productions. She can be found on Twitter @jesswelman.

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