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October 23, 2017

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What to expect if Nevada legalizes recreational marijuana

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David Zalubowski / AP

In this photo taken Saturday, April 25, 2015, Nevada Sen. Tick Segerblom and Ronald Dreher, government affairs director for Peace Officers Research Association of Nevada, pass by an area with marijuana plants under cultivation as Nevada lawmakers, their staffers and lobbyists toured two retail and grow operations for medical and recreational marijuana in northeast Denver.

Less than a month from now, Nevada could become the sixth state to legalize recreational marijuana use for adults. With a Oct. 26 KNTV/Rasmussen Poll showing that 53 percent of Silver State residents are in favor of the new ballot initiative, the plant currently regulated like heroin and ecstasy could be almost as legally available as a bottle of liquor, starting Jan. 1, 2018.

Almost. Although the ballot question would allow for adults 21 and older to possess and consume marijuana, the new law, if passed, wouldn’t just produce a free-for-all. Language in the bill provides for the 2017 Legislature to make amendments and clarify technicalities it believes are too loosely written.

As is, here’s a look at what would be allowed, what won’t be allowed and how the proposed model would be different from Nevada’s current medical marijuana industry.

What a person 21 years of age or older could do:

• Legally purchase and consume, per day, up to one ounce of marijuana, or up to one-eighth of marijuana concentrates, like shatter, oil and wax. Total purchases could not exceed 2.5 ounces per two weeks. A registry that would prevent customers from hopping from dispensary to dispensary is being considered.

• Smoke or consume edibles on their own private property, including the front yard, backyard or inside a home or apartment.

• Smoke or consume edibles on the private property of others, and venues that obtain a license for marijuana use.

• Grow up to six plants per person for personal use, if that person lives more than 25 miles away from a medical marijuana facility. No more than 12 plants per household

What they could not do:

• Distribute the plant to those under 21 years old. Penalty: misdemeanor or felony, depending on the quantity of marijuana

• Smoke in a public place, like a park, sidewalk, community center, or on private property where it’s not allowed. Penalty: $600 fine

• Smoke or consume edibles in a casino or a bar. Gaming and marijuana don’t yet mix, according to the Nevada Gaming Control Board. As a federally illegal substance, marijuana isn’t welcome in casinos, which are pushed to abide by federal laws in addition to state laws. With a liquor license potentially at stake, bars are likely to stay away from legal weed as well, said Joe Brezny, executive director of the Nevada Cannabis Industry Association. State Sen. Tick Segerblom said he plans to address the issue in the 2017 Legislature, to make it easier for bars to allow marijuana smokers. Penalty: $600 fine.

• Grow the plant on property that doesn’t belong to you. For renters and lessees, permission to grow marijuana would have to be approved by their properties’ landlords. First offense: $600 fine and a misdemeanor. Second offense: $1,000 fine and a misdemeanor. Third offense: Gross misdemeanor. Fourth offense: Category E Felony

• Establish a marijuana facility of any kind within 1,000 feet of a public or private school; or 300 feet of a community center, such as parks, churches, daycare centers, recreational facilities and playgrounds. Penalty: Permit would not granted

Establishing the marketplace:

For the first 18 months after the recreational marijuana question goes into law, current medical marijuana state registration certificate holders (dispensary owners) would have dibs on building new facilities for recreational marijuana. That includes new dispensaries, cultivation and testing facilities as well as manufacturing facilities for products like bongs, bubblers and pipes.

After that, the general public would be able to join the industry with their own facilities. But the Nevada Department of Taxation, which is overseeing and regulating the proposed marijuana project, wouldn’t be handing out licenses like candy, either. Licenses would be limited by county, based on population.

The rules: Counties with greater than 700,000 residents can have up to 80 retail marijuana store licenses. Counties with 100,000-700,000 residents can have up to 20. Counties with 55,000-100,000 can have up to four, and counties with less than 55,000 residents can have up to two.

Only Carson City and four of Nevada’s 16 counties currently allow for medical marijuana dispensaries. The other 12 counties banned it with a vote.

Nevada State Sen. Tick Segerblom said the same local and county government rules would be in place if Question 2 were to pass. Counties and local municipalities would have the right to vote on whether they want to allow recreational marijuana facilities, too.

How much would it cost businesses to apply?

All businesses would pay a one-time application fee of $5,000, in addition to licensing fees.

One-time licensing fees:

• Cultivation facility: $30,000

• Retail store: $20,000

• Wholesale distributor: $15,000

• Testing facility: $15,000

• Product manufacturing facility: $10,000

Annual licensing fees:

• Cultivation facility: $10,000

• Retail store: $6,600

• Wholesale distributor: $5,000

• Testing facility: $5,000

• Product manufacturing facility: $3,300

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