The Silver State struck green recently. On November 8th of 2016, Question 2 passed and by January 1st it was legal for adults 21 and older in Nevada to possess certain amounts of cannabis. Not to mention the anticipated opening of shops by July this year. But before you go lighting a J down the strip or start growing a few plants of your own, you might want to reconsider. Sin City is known as a city of excess and lawlessness and Nevada has guidelines seeming to pander specifically to the business investor.
Progress is always welcome and for many this is exciting news. Here are some of the pros and cons of the new laws:
- Pro: If you are 21 and older you can possess up to an ounce of marijuana or up to one-eighth of an ounce of cannabis concentrate at a time.
- Pro: If a person has a nonviolent criminal record of possession of up to an ounce of marijuana they can get record of those charges erased and all related records sealed. However, Question 2 still requires the Department of Taxation to conduct a background check on every license applicant, as well as determine the criminal history of each worker or volunteer “for suitability of employment as established in Question 2.”
- Pro: Nevada residents can now legally possess, cultivate, process, or transport up to six plants for personal use and possess the marijuana produced by the plants on the premises where the plants were grown if it is in an enclosed area that can be locked.
- Pro: Up to 12 plants can be possessed, cultivated, or processed at a home at one time, but only 6 of those can be flowering.
- Pro: Nevada residents can now deliver or give up to an ounce of marijuana or one-eighth of an ounce of concentrate to whomever they please as long as it is not being sold, advertised, public or promoted, and both parties are of age of course.
- Con: Liquor distributors will have a monopoly on licenses for the first 18 months. The Department of Taxation will only accept applications for marijuana stores, production facilities, and cultivation facilities from registered medical marijuana establishments and registered liquor distributors leaving small business entrepreneurs to fall short from the beginning.
- Con: Public consumption is illegal so many may choose to light up in their hotel rooms. That’s not allowed either. Due to concerns regarding conflicting federal law and casinos working hard to meet gaming regulations, cannabis friendly hotels and casinos are an issue. Public consumption is a misdemeanor offense, which could lead to up to six month in jail and a fine.
- Con: If you live within 25 miles of a dispensary, your right to grow has just been revoked. You cannot grow without a special exemption from the state. If a person live more than 25 miles away from a dispensary, you can still grow up to the 12 plants (only 6 of them flowering at a time) stated above as long as you are registered with the state.
- Con: Proper impaired driving procedures are something that should be addressed in every state. On July 1, law enforcement will only use blood tests to determine whether drivers are under the influence of marijuana. The threshold for marijuana compounds in the blood is 5 nanograms. The issue here is it’s both invasive and ineffective. Someone who is high with a low tolerance could test negative and someone who is not at that moment but uses regularly could test positive.
The New York Times created a map of the counties that voted for and against the legalization. It only took three of the largest to vote yes for the law to gain majority and pass for the state. Those three counties are also the ones that would see the most profit considering the traffic of tourists in those areas. It’s obvious there is a big business advantage from the very beginning.
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To make matters worse, arguments over the Nevada budget has boiled down to benefitting the privileged as well. Governor Brian Sandoval and the Republican party have made Education Savings Accounts a funding priority. Democratic Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson said it best explaining that, “Our Democratic majorities in both chambers have said loud and clear from day one that we believe in keeping public dollars in public schools. We continue to have deep concerns about how diverting public money to subsidize wealthy families would weaken our education system and threaten our children’s future.”
Gov. Sandoval would like to take $60 million dollars from public school funding in a state that ranks dead last in quality education. It’s “difficult to justify” helping wealthy families pay private tuition when Nevada is “behind Mississippi” in public funding.” Speaker Jason Frierson explained.