Nevada Governor signs Marijuana reforms bill into law
Nevada Governor Joe Lombardo last week approved a bill that makes several reforms to the state’s marijuana laws, including more than doubling the limit on adult-use cannabis possession and purchases.
The omnibus measure, Senate Bill 277, was signed by the Republican governor on May 14, according to a report from online cannabis new source Marijuana Moment, after receiving approval from the state legislature earlier this month.
The new law makes several significant changes to Nevada’s laws governing marijuana. In 2001, the state legalized medical marijuana, followed by the legalization of adult-use cannabis with the passage of Question 2, a 2016 ballot measure that legalized recreational marijuana in Nevada for adults 21 and older.
The legislation more than doubles the possession and purchase limits for recreational marijuana in Nevada, raising the cap from one ounce of cannabis to 2.5 ounces. The measure also doubles the limits for cannabis concentrates from one-eighth of an ounce to a quarter ounce.
The legislation also permits all adult-use cannabis dispensaries in Nevada to sell cannabis products to medical marijuana patients. Beginning next year, state cannabis regulators will no longer be able to issue new licenses for medical marijuana businesses, except in areas of the state that have prohibited the operation of recreational cannabis dispensaries.
New Law Eases Cannabis Industry Employment Restrictions
Senate Bill 277 also eases a ban on individuals with felony convictions from operating or working at cannabis businesses in Nevada. Under the approved legislation, the Nevada Cannabis Compliance Board has been given the authority to issue licenses to businesses with stakeholders that have prior felony convictions if the agency “determines that doing so would not pose a threat to the public health or safety or negatively impact the cannabis industry in this State,” according to the text of the legislation cited by Marijuana Moment. To comply with t change, the board will be required to “impose any conditions and limitations on the granting of an exemption that the Board determines necessary to preserve the public health and safety or mitigate the impact of granting the exemption on the cannabis industry in this State.”
The legislation also amends a ban on those with certain prior felony convictions from being employed in Nevada’s regulated cannabis industry. Under the bill, individuals with such convictions will be permitted to petition the state to work at a licensed cannabis business without first having their records expunged. Meg Nash, a partner at the cannabis and psychedelics law firm Vicente LLP, says that provisions of Senate Bill 277 that make it easier for individuals with criminal records to work in the cannabis industry reflect a key tenet of current marijuana legalization proposals.
“Legislative efforts to increase participation in the regulated industry by people with prior convictions not only benefits these individuals, but also furthers overarching cannabis legalization policy objectives to combat the failed war on drugs,” Nash writes in an email. “Increasingly, ‘new’ states are incorporating reparative justice elements into their initial adult use legalization efforts, such as New York and Maryland. It is encouraging to see states that were at the forefront of legalization, such as Nevada, revisiting their laws and regulations to create a more inclusive industry.”
Nevada’s new cannabis reform law also tasks the state Cannabis Advisory Commission with conducting a study to determine the potential effects that ending the federal prohibition of cannabis and removing marijuana from the state’s Uniform Controlled Substances Act would have on the regulated cannabis industry. The legislation also requires state regulators to consider if a proposed change to Nevada’s cannabis regulations “is likely to have an adverse effect on the environment and, if so, whether there are any methods to reduce or eliminate that adverse effect which would not impose an economic burden on holders of an adult-use cannabis establishment license or medical cannabis establishment license.”
Portions of the approved legislation go into effect immediately, with full implementation of Nevada’s cannabis reform bill slated for January 1, 2024.