When can we buy recreational cannabis already?

The marijuana cultivation room glows purple under the LED lamps at the Grove.

Nevadans voted to authorize the regulation, purchase and consumption of recreational cannabis on November 8, as did voters in three other states. The Weekly previously addressed the statute’s essentials prior to its victory, but questions remain as marijuana users await actual implementation (which, sorry, might take more than a year).

When can we buy legal weed? “Anyone saying they have a best guess on this is fibbing,” says Joe Brezny, spokesperson of the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol and executive director of the Nevada Cannabis Industry Association. It depends on when the Department of Taxation finishes its work with regards to regulations and licensing, which may be hastened thanks to guidelines already drawn up for medicinal marijuana, and if the legislature and/or governor get involved, which they might if motivated by the potential $400 million state budget shortfall. Expect existing dispensaries to offer legal cannabis first, possibly by early summer. The taxation department must complete its regulation work by January 1, 2018.

Can we bring marijuana that’s legal in another state into Nevada? No. Transporting marijuana across state lines is illegal, though merely possessing an ounce or less after January 1, 2017 is not.

What does “private use” mean? Recreational cannabis consumption will be forbidden outside of privately owned property. Currently, medical marijuana is allowed in private businesses when the owner permits it, as long as the public has no access. But Question 2 includes what Brezny calls “enabling language” that could allow the legislature to permit consumption at point of sale, which expands economic opportunity. “Essentially you’re allowing Amsterdam-style coffee shops,” Brezny says. "You could go next door to a lounge with rolling papers, pipes and consume marijuana on site. That model works well for Las Vegas because you could have tourists taking a ridesharing service to the dispensary, purchasing and then consuming on site, and taking the rideshare back to their hotel. We don’t have to worry about the line drawn between the gaming and marijuana industries."

How can those who partake avoid DUIs? The criteria by which law enforcement uses to test motorists for inebriation—which actually measures inactive metabolites, not ingredients still active in one’s system—won’t change. This is stirring discussion nationwide. “Many field sobriety tests are easy to fail and hard to pass,” Brezny says. "If it’s 10 a.m. and you ask me to recite alphabet backwards, I can guarantee you I’m going to be sent to the hospital for a blood test." So how might one best gauge their sobriety before getting behind the wheel? Rule of thumb: Brezny stresses waiting at least four hours, or requesting a Lyft or Uber ride.

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Mike Prevatt

Mike started his journalism career at UCLA reviewing CDs and interviewing bands, less because he needed even more homework and ...

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