Last November, Washoe County residents were asked to vote on the statewide Measure 2- allowing people 21 and older to manufacture, possess, transport, and consume marijuana. Passing in a 54.47 percent vote, it is now legal to possess up to an ounce of marijuana or up to an eighth of an ounce of cannabis concentrate.
Now that the measure has passed, Nevada’s Department of Taxation and legislature have until January of next year to create and adopt regulations surrounding the law. The regulations regarding marijuana will cover licensing qualifications and processes, security measures, and product testing/packing along with tax collections and record-keeping.
Some may have wondered if anything has changed with the passing of Measure 2 and it becoming legalized January 1, but it hasn’t seemed to have much of an impact so far (except in the stock market). Owning and operating marijuana retail stores are legal, but a store is still not allowed within 1,000 feet of a school.
Currently each county in Nevada can limit the number of licenses issued; in Washoe County there is a limit of 12 dispensaries that can be in the area- half in incorporated regions and half in unincorporated areas. Since marijuana has been legal in Nevada for medical use, at least five dispensaries have opened in Washoe County within the past year.
Washoe County Media and Communications Specialist Chris Ciarlo says that no applications regarding recreational marijuana dispensaries have come through nor can they since the county is not at that stage in the regulations process. The state has not yet announced when it will open the licensing period to potential marijuana retail store owners, but it has until January 1, 2018 to establish those rules.
Businesses that already have medical marijuana dispensaries are in a better position to convert their medical dispensaries into retail stores though as they will have 18 months to submit their applications for recreational use once the program opens. The earliest new retail marijuana store owners are expected to be able to apply for a recreational license is June 2019.
For marijuana consumers, criminal penalties still apply to people under the influence of marijuana while driving and if people under 21 are in possession of it. Being high while driving is still a crime and the marijuana DUI law is not affected with Measure 2’s passing. It is still illegal to drive with 10 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL) of marijuana is one’s system (or 15 ng/mL of marijuana metabolite) or have a blood level of 2 ng/mL of marijuana (5 ng/mL of metabolite).
“The DUI law hasn’t changed, it’s still illegal to drive with marijuana in your system,” says Sparks Police Officer Ken Gallop. “We haven’t seen any increase of people driving around smoking marijuana, there hasn’t been any change.”
He added that when someone is under suspicion of DUI whether it be marijuana or alcohol, that people show the same symptoms of erratic driving patterns, slow acceleration, unusual braking patterns, and swerving. When police pull over those suspected of DUI, there is usually a strong permeating odor of alcohol or marijuana coming out of the car or on people’s breath.
“Nothing has changed in standardized testing of DUI and these tests have been vetted for 10-plus years,” says Officer Gallop. “When it comes to DUI, the fact of the matter is that people under the influence shouldn’t be out on the road and putting themselves or other people in danger. Whatever you decide to do, just plan ahead,” Gallop says.
Although possession of cannabis is now legal, smoking or consuming it in public is not allowed and punishable up to a $600 fine.