If you’ve wandered through a casino resort parking garage in Las Vegas recently, you might have noticed the unmistakable scent of marijuana lingering in the air.
That’s because Sin City lived up to its reputation as an adult playground in late 2016, when local voters overwhelmingly approved a ballot measure, legalizing and regulating recreational marijuana use. The sale and consumption of small amounts of marijuana is now legal.
Marijuana legalization, either for medicinal purposes or recreational enjoyment, has become a big business throughout the country. Full-scale recreational sales are also legal in Alaska, California, Colorado, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington.
But Nevada law controls how much you can carry, where you can smoke, and even which growers and distributors are permitted to dispense their buds, “pre-rolled” cigarettes (AKA “joints”), edible gummies, vape pens, and other THC-based products to the masses.
Unless you’re a local who lives here day in and day out, navigating this legal and regulatory maze might just leave you dazed and confused.
Whether you enjoy the occasional puff yourself, or you simply want to learn more about what to expect during your next excursion to Las Vegas, this page is for you. Below, you’ll find a comprehensive guide to legal marijuana in Las Vegas in a safe and responsible fashion.
History of Marijuana Legalization in Nevada
First things first… how did we all get here?
Well, the effort to legalize marijuana in Nevada began way back in 1998, when voters turned out at a 59% margin to support the Nevada Medical Marijuana Act. That ballot initiative was backed up two years later by 65% of the electorate*.
*Nevada law requires two consecutive successful ballot measures to amend the state’s constitution.
From there, medicinal marijuana (MMJ) patients who use THC to remedy symptoms associated with cancer, AIDS, and glaucoma among other ailments were permitted to grow their own plants and smoke at home, but full-scale sales and distribution didn’t become a reality until 2013.
As for recreational marijuana sales and usage, the issue was put to voters in November of 2016 through Question 2, better known as the Initiative to Regulate and Tax Marijuana. Despite an onslaught of negative campaign ads funded by Las Vegas Sands multibillionaire Sheldon Adelson, 54% of voters once again offered their support for an end to prohibition.
At the time, Joe Brezny—spokesperson for the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol (CRMLA)—told the Cannabis Business Times that his lobby group was pleased to see voters repeatedly reject prohibition.
By January 1st of 2017, marijuana use became fully legal, and on July 1st of the same year, licensed dispensaries began distributing their products across Las Vegas and the rest of the state. Smokers are now able to possess up to one ounce of “flower,” or 1/8 ounce of concentrated THC or Cannabidiol (CBD) extract.
The law was largely touted as an easy way to build an economic engine in Nevada that didn’t depend on tourism and US casino gambling. By applying a hefty 15% excise tax on all sales, much larger than the 2% tax levied in neighboring California, Nevada sought to generate millions in annual revenue for local school districts.
In fiscal year 2018, the state collected $42.5 million in marijuana-based revenue, with $27.3 million diverted straight to the Nevada Distributive School Account.
You can learn more about how Nevada utilizes its recreational marijuana taxes, along with licensing fees and other revenue derived from the flourishing industry in this informative article published last June by the Las Vegas Sun.
List of Licensed Legal Marijuana Dispensaries in Las Vegas
As of the most recent accounting from the NDT, Las Vegas and its surrounding suburbs are home to 46 licensed marijuana dispensaries:
Published: March 01, 2020
Founder & Interim Editor of L.A. Cannabis News