Cannabis in Nevada – Laws, Use, and History

The Nevada flag and a medical marijuana dispensary entrance

Nevada legalised recreational use of cannabis in 2017. Now, adults over the age of 21 can legally purchase up to one ounce of cannabis from a state-licenced retailer; or if there isn’t a retailer near their property, they can grow up to six plants at home. However, there are rules in place. For example, public use is forbidden and will incur a fine.

    • CBD Products
    • Legal
    • Recreational cannabis
    • Legal
    • Medicinal cannabis
    • Legal since 2000

Cannabis laws in Nevada

The US is governed by federal and state laws. This article covers the cannabis laws in the state of Nevada.

Can you possess and use cannabis in Nevada?

Recreational cannabis use was legalised in Nevada in 2017. Prior to this, those caught in possession of up to one ounce were given a fine, with no criminal record imposed unless they’d committed the same offence two further times. 

Interestingly, before 2001, Nevada was the only state in the US that regarded cannabis possession (of any amount) as a felony offence.

Now, Nevada state law permits individuals to possess up to one ounce of cannabis (or 1/8 ounce of concentrated cannabis, such as separated resin). They must be over the age of 21, but cannot consume the cannabis in any public place. This means that it’s only legal to use in a private residence, and if living in rented accommodation, permission must be obtained from the property owner first.

If caught consuming cannabis in a public place (or even in a licenced retail store), individuals can be fined up to $600.

Driving and cannabis

Nevada’s law states that cannabis cannot be consumed in any moving vehicle. This applies to passengers as well as drivers.

If a driver is caught operating a vehicle with 2 nanograms of active THC in their bloodstream, this is counted as a DUI (driving under the influence). The offender receives the same penalties as a driver under the influence of alcohol – and it’s estimated that the average DUI costs individuals around $10,000 (including all legal fees etc.).

Purchasing cannabis legally

The only way to purchase cannabis in Nevada is to buy from a store or dispensary with a state licence. It’s illegal to buy it through any other source. Additionally, customers must prove their age with an ID card.

A medical marijuana dispensary sign

Employers and cannabis

The law doesn’t give individuals the right to use cannabis in all circumstances. For example, if an employer believes that a staff member’s performance is impaired by cannabis use, they have the right to carry out drug tests. They can also establish workplace policies regarding its consumption; for example, banning cannabis use if the after-effects are likely to affect productivity. This is permitted under the Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act.

Can you sell cannabis in Nevada?

Retailers can sell cannabis in Nevada, provided they have a state-issued licence. Cannabis selling commenced in July 2017, with 61 dispensaries reporting close to $425 million in recreational cannabis sales.

This figure continued to rise in 2018. In the last half of the year, the dispensaries reported $884 million in sales, which generated close to $72 million in taxes for the state.

However, the licencing process hasn’t been without its controversies.

In 2019, several companies sued the state tax department. They claimed that Nevada approved some retailers unconstitutionally, and that the criteria for licencing was shrouded in unnecessary secrecy.

Gov. Steve Sisolak recognised “the frustrations of many marijuana licence applicants with the current licencing process,” and highlighted the forthcoming legislation which “would shed light on the methodology used… in granting licences.”

Finally, in 2020, a Nevada judge ruled that the licencing process could resume, with new retailers being permitted to operate in the state. In July 2021, the Cannabis Compliance Board lists 86 licensed cannabis dispensaries across the state.

Can you grow cannabis in Nevada?

The state permits adults to grow cannabis plants at home. However, there are certain rules in place:

  • Adults must be over the age of 21.
  • The plants must be for personal consumption only.
  • They can only be grown if there isn’t a state-licenced cannabis retailer within 25 miles of the home.
  • Only six plants may be grown per person.
  • No more than 12 plants can be grown per household.
  • Plants must be grown in an enclosed, lockable area, such as a cupboard, greenhouse or other room.
  • They must not be visible from a public place.
  • The grower must be the homeowner. If not, they must have permission to grow the cannabis from the legal owner of the property.
A field with rows of cannabis plants

Is CBD legal in Nevada?

CBD is legal in Nevada, providing it derives from hemp (which is low in THC), not cannabis. In 2018, the federal law was changed, making CBD a Class V substance, not a Class I (the category reserved for the most dangerous drugs).

This means that CBD can be purchased, used and sold in Nevada.

Medicinal cannabis in Nevada

Cannabis was legalised for medicinal purposes in 2000. The following conditions can be treated with the drug:

Patients may possess up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis, plus/or the maximum permitted quantity of edible cannabis products or cannabis-infused products. They may also cultivate up to 12 plants at home, if there is no dispensary within 25 miles (40 km) of their property. If they need a particular strain of cannabis that’s not provided by their local dispensary, they may also cultivate that – regardless of the distance of the dispensary to their home.

A Medical Marijuana card is required in order to access medicinal cannabis products. These are only issued after an evaluation, carried out by a doctor.

The changes to the recreational cannabis law have impacted the medicinal cannabis programme. For example, the state application process can now all be completed online, making it easier for patients to obtain their medication.

A woman wearing a mask inspecting indoor cannabis plants

Industrial hemp in Nevada

After the Farm Bill came into action in 2018 (legalising the cultivation of industrial hemp across the nation), many states started introducing hemp programmes, to support local growers.

Nevada’s Industrial Hemp programme seeks to outline the benefits of growing the plant, and to ensure that all those who do grow it remain within the law. All hemp grown in Nevada must adhere to the definition outlined in the federal law, which is: “the plant Cannabis sativa L. and any part of such plant (…) with a [THC] concentration of not more than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis.”

Joe Frey, the owner of Western State Hemp, highlights the potential that hemp offers growers in the state. “I would say we have far less product than what there is demand for on the market right now,” he comments.

A field of hemp plants

Good to know

If you are travelling to Nevada (or currently live there), you may be interested to know the following:

  • The cannabis trade is booming in Nevada. Prior to businesses selling cannabis for recreational use, the state predicted that annual sales would be $265 million. The actual amount was approximately 60% higher than this.
  • The number of students suspended or expelled from school for possessing a drug dropped in the 2016/17 school year; after recreational cannabis use was legalised. It’s possible that the two might be linked.
  • Recent reports claim that Nevada could raise over $1 billion during the first seven years of selling recreational cannabis.

Cannabis history

Prior to the 1920’s, Nevada (like most other US states) had a good relationship with cannabis and hemp. It was widely grown and used for a variety of purposes, including rope and fibre-making. However, the introduction of the Marihuana Tax Act in 1937 meant that cannabis was prohibited across the country, and Nevada was no exception. In fact, the state had already banned it, back in 1923.

However, by 1998, attitudes had changed completely. Nevada’s residents approved the Nevada Medical Marijuana Act, which legalised cannabis for medicinal purposes. The amendment to the law required two consecutive approvals, so it wasn’t until after the second election in 2000 that the medicinal products became fully legal.

Sixteen years later, Nevada’s general public voted again – this time to legalise recreational use. They’re now one of the few states in the US to have done so; though numbers are rising.

Attitudes towards cannabis

As the law so clearly demonstrates, attitudes towards cannabis in Nevada are largely positive. Prominent figures, such as Gov. Sisolak, have made public appearances in the past alongside cannabis advocates, and have spoken out about its benefits.

Sisolak recently commented: “The reality is, this is the future. Let’s not be ashamed of it.”

Nevada’s tourist trade

While the recreational cannabis laws in Nevada are undoubtedly progressive, they pose problems with regards to ‘cannabis tourism’. For example, those who come to Las Vegas can legally obtain the drug from a retailer. The only issue is, they can’t then consume it anywhere; as the law requires them to be in a private residence.

Also, federal law still states that cannabis consumption and sale is illegal. Institutions such as the casinos in Las Vegas are regulated heavily by the federal government, so this could cause problems.

However, this is set to change. Las Vegas City Council voted to let existing dispensaries open ‘cannabis lounges’, where people can legally consume the drug. This has caused disruption among the city’s businesses.

Tick Segerblom, Clark County Commissioner and a former state senator, commented: “We’re the new Amsterdam. They’re [the gaming companies] concerned about [lounges] making money outside the hotels. They’re worried the longer this goes outside hotels, the more established they’ll get. As a business person, I would be concerned too.”

  • Disclaimer:
    While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this article, it is not intended to provide legal advice, as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer.


7 thoughts on “Cannabis in Nevada – Laws, Use, and History”

  1. Kelly Doyle

    Dear Adam,
    I was given this link by a parent of student of mine, Nancy Godoy. My name is Kelly and I am first grade teacher here in Las Vegas. I was just diagnosed with Basal Cell Carcinoma and have been referred to Comprehensive Cancer Centers of America. I go in for my first meeting with a radiological oncologist (all very new to me) I just know that I am in that unlucky 10% that it just isn’t just skin cancer. Please send me info on how to apply for the future. I’m numb right now…
    Thank you

    1. Scarlet Palmer - Sensi Seeds

      Hello Kelly,

      We are very sorry to hear about your diagnosis. Unfortunately you cannot contact Adam through this post as it is on the Sensi Seeds website and although it is an article about Compassion Nevada Consulting, it is not directly connected with them. However they are on Facebook and you may be able to contact them in that way. I hope this helps.

      With best wishes,


  2. Hi Adam. My wife has cancer. She needs oil, but we have nothing like this in Las Vegas dispensaries. She has unbearable pain and I do not know how to help her. Thank you.

    1. Scarlet Palmer - Sensi Seeds

      Hello Sergei,

      We are very sorry to hear about your wife. Unfortunately you cannot contact Adam through this post as it is on the Sensi Seeds website and although it is an article about Compassion Nevada Consulting, it is not directly connected with them. However they are on Facebook and you may be able to contact them in that way. I hope this helps.

      With best wishes,


  3. I am new to las Vegas and was checking out some web sites. I came across your website and am so impressed with yours. When I get established I would love to volunteer for your organization. Keep up the good work!

  4. Christopher DeLuca, Las Vegas,NV

    Very insightful and completely true report! I live in Las Vegas, NV and personally know Adam. I was lucky enough to attend one of their job fairs as I am hoping to find a career in the ‘compassion industry’ and the world NEEDS more businesses that actually CARE about their customers. Not to mention that cannabis holds so many of the ‘cures’ to what is killing the world. God bless THE HEMP AND MEDICAL MARIJUANA!!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Author and reviewer

  • Profile-image

    Sensi Seeds

    The Sensi Seeds Editorial team has been built throughout our more than 30 years of existence. Our writers and editors include botanists, medical and legal experts as well as renown activists the world over including Lester Grinspoon, Micha Knodt, Robert Connell Clarke, Maurice Veldman, Sebastian Maríncolo, James Burton and Seshata.
    More about this author
  • Maurice_Veldman

    Maurice Veldman

    Maurice Veldman is a member of the Dutch Association of Criminal Lawyers and one of the Netherlands’ most notable cannabis lawyers. With 25 years’ experience in the field, his knowledge of criminal and administrative law supports cannabis sellers and hemp producers by addressing the inequalities between the individual and the state.
    More about this reviewer
Scroll to Top