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Nevada laws for “Cultivation of Marijuana” in Nevada (NRS 453.3393)

Updated July 1, 2020

Nevada marijuana law permits recreational marijuana cultivation of up to 6 plants (a maximum of 12 per household) only if the grower is more than 25 miles from the nearest licensed dispensary. Growing more than 12 plants is a felony, though the court typically grants probation instead of Nevada State Prison.

Common defenses to Nevada charges of cultivating weed include:

  1. The defendant had no knowledge the pot was growing on his/her property, or
  2. The defendant had a valid medical marijuana card, and he/she was too ill or lacked means to travel to a dispensary

Even though Nevada recently legalized recreational marijuana, courts still take cultivation crimes very seriously. And growing 50 lbs. or more of pot is prosecuted as trafficking, even if it is just for personal use.

In this article, our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys answer frequently-asked-questions about Nevada laws for cultivating marijuana, including punishments, defense strategies, record seals, and immigration consequences. Click on a topic to jump to that section:

1. May I cultivate my own marijuana in Las Vegas, Nevada?

Recreational pot cultivation is permitted under very limited circumstances. Only people who live more than 25 miles from the nearest dispensary are allowed to grow pot. In reality, this rule outlaws anyone in Clark and Washoe Counties.

Furthermore, the few rural Nevadans who live more than 25 miles from a dispensary may grow no more than six (6) plants per person. And no household may have more than twelve (12) plants. Finally, the marijuana must be cultivated in an enclosed space not viewable by the general public (so not near a window where people from the street can see).

Note that “cultivation” comprises “growing” as well as the following actions:

  • manufacturing,
  • planting,
  • harvesting,
  • drying,
  • propagating, or
  • processing

Obviously, commercial growers with a valid registration card from the Nevada State Health Division operate by a different set of rules. 1

1.1. Medical Marijuana Patients

People with valid Nevada medical marijuana cards follow slightly laxer rules. They may grow their own marijuana plants only if:

  • the dispensary is unable to supply the marijuana to the cardholder, or
  • the cardholder is too ill to travel to the dispensary, or
  • the cardholder lacks transportation to travel to the dispensary, or
  • there is no dispensary within 25 miles of the cardholder

And cardholders may not possess more than 12 marijuana plants, mature or immature. 2

2. Can I go to jail for growing my own marijuana in Las Vegas, Nevada?

Usually not for a first offense. And it is often possible to get criminal charges reduced or dismissed through a plea bargain.

The specific penalties depend on the circumstances:

2.1. Growing more than 12 plants (but less than 50 lbs.)

Illegally growing more than 12 plants is a category E felony in Nevada. It carries probation and a suspended sentence and the cost of cleaning and disposing of the marijuana and cultivation facility. But if the defendant has at least two prior felony convictions, the court can order:

  • 1 to 4 years in Nevada State Prison, and
  • maybe up to $5,000 in fines

Note that growing 50 lbs or more of marijuana is automatically prosecuted as trafficking, which carries much harsher penalties and steep fines. 3

2.2. Violating other cultivation rules (NRS 453D.400)

Recreational growers face prosecution for either of the following acts:

  1. Cultivating marijuana within 25 miles of a licensed retail marijuana store;
  2. Cultivating marijuana plants where they are visible from a public place by normal unaided vision; or
  3. Cultivating marijuana on property not in the cultivator’s lawful possession, or without the consent of the property owner

The punishment for committing one of these offenses increases with each successive conviction: 4

2.3. Concentrated Cannabis

It is a category C felony for a recreational user to knowingly or intentionally extract concentrated cannabis. The penalty is 1 to 5 years in prison and possibly up to $10,000 in fines. 5

3. How do I fight the charges?

The defenses available to defendants facing charges for growing marijuana in Nevada depend on the circumstances of the case. Two common strategies include:

  1. Lack of intent: Cultivating marijuana is not illegal in Nevada if the person had no idea he/she was growing it. For example, a person with a wild marijuana plant growing in his/her background is committing no crime as long as he/she does not realize the plant is marijuana. If the prosecutor cannot prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant knowingly or intentionally grew marijuana, the charges should be dropped.
  2. Medical Marijuana: Cultivating marijuana is legal as long as it is done in accordance with Nevada medical marijuana laws. If the grower is a patient, he/she can cultivate up to 12 marijuana plants as long as he/she cannot reasonably get marijuana from a dispensary and has a valid Nevada medical marijuana card. The charges should be dismissed as long as the defendant can show Nevada medical marijuana laws permitted them to cultivate marijuana.

Note that Nevada law enforcement often learns of illegal marijuana growers by satellite images showing greenhouses or by unusual electricity usage. When prosecuting cultivation cases, the D.A. often presents photographs of the plants and lab results confirming that the specimens are indeed marijuana.

4. Can I get my record sealed?

Usually, yes. The waiting period to begin the record seal process depends on the specific charge:

Classification of Cultivating Marijuana Charge Record Seal Wait Time
misdemeanor (NRS 453D.400) 1 year after the case closes
gross misdemeanor (NRS 453D.400) 2 years after the case closes
category E felony (NRS 453.3393) 2 years after the case closes
category C felony (NRS 453.3393) 5 years after the case closes

Note that any criminal charge that gets dismissed can be sealed immediately. 6

5. Can I get deported for growing marijuana?

Probably not for growing a small amount, but it is a gray area. Aliens who have been arrested should seek legal counsel from an attorney right away to discuss their options for safeguarding their resident status. Learn more about the criminal defense of immigrants in Nevada. 7

6. Related offenses

Additional marijuana crimes in Nevada are:

Call us if you are facing a drug charge…

Arrested for “cultivating marijuana” in Nevada? Contact our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys to schedule a free meeting. We may be able to persuade the prosecutors to reduce or dismiss your charges without a trial.

¿Habla español? Obtener información acerca de las leyes de Nevada para el cultivo de marihuana.

Arrested in Colorado? Go to our article on Colorado marijuana laws.

Legal References:
  1. NRS 453D.110; NRS 453D.400.
  2. NRS 453A.200.
  3. NRS 453.3393.
  4. NRS 453.3363, NRS 453.580
  5. NRS 453.3393
  6. NRS 179.245; NRS 179.255.
  7. Immigration and Nationality ActINA § 237(a)(2)(B)(i); 8 USC 1227(a)(2)(B)(i).

Nevada Revised Statutes Blog Posts:

Updated July 1, 2020 Nevada marijuana law permits recreational marijuana cultivation of up to 6 plants (a maximum of 12 per household) only if the grower is more than 25 miles from the nearest licensed dispensary. Growing more than 12 plants is a felony, though the court typically grants probation instead of Nevada State Prison. .

Updated July 1, 2020 Nevada marijuana law permits recreational marijuana cultivation of up to 6 plants (a maximum of 12 per household) only if the grower is more than 25 miles from the nearest licensed dispensary. Growing more than 12 plants is a felony, though the court typically grants probation instead of Nevada State Prison. .

Updated July 1, 2020 Nevada marijuana law permits recreational marijuana cultivation of up to 6 plants (a maximum of 12 per household) only if the grower is more than 25 miles from the nearest licensed dispensary. Growing more than 12 plants is a felony, though the court typically grants probation instead of Nevada State Prison. .

Updated July 1, 2020 Nevada marijuana law permits recreational marijuana cultivation of up to 6 plants (a maximum of 12 per household) only if the grower is more than 25 miles from the nearest licensed dispensary. Growing more than 12 plants is a felony, though the court typically grants probation instead of Nevada State Prison. .

Only people more than 25 miles away from a licensed dispensary may grow marijuana in Nevada for recreational purposes. Those growers are limited to 6 plants per person and 12 per household. The marijuana plants may not be visible to the public. Depending on the facts, violations may carry fines or prison time.

20 things to know about legal marijuana in Nevada

On Sunday, Nevada joined Colorado, Oregon, Washington and Alaska in legalizing recreational marijuana for adults as the state’s voter-approved measure takes effect. So what is and isn’t be legal? And what does legalization bring with it?

On Sunday, Nevada joined Colorado, Oregon, Washington and Alaska in legalizing recreational marijuana for adults as the state’s voter-approved measure takes effect. So what is and isn’t be legal? And what does legalization bring with it?

Here are answers to some of the questions surrounding legalization that will help you navigate Nevada’s uncharted cannabis waters.

Question: When did marijuana become legal in Nevada?

Answer: At the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve.

Q: Who can use it?

A: Only adults 21 years and older.

Q: Can I buy weed legally on Jan. 1?

A: Come Jan. 1, you can only legally buy marijuana in Nevada with a medical marijuana card.

Why? Because no stores can sell recreational marijuana for several months. Question 2, which Nevadans approved by a nine-point margin last month, gives the state’s Department of Taxation until Jan. 1, 2018, to craft the the regulations that will govern retail marijuana dispensary licenses and sales. The department has said it is working on temporary regulations that would allow for licensed medical shops to sell some recreational products, but that won’t likely happen until the summer of 2017.

Q: How much marijuana can I have?

A: You can possess up to one ounce of marijuana, or up to 1/8 of an ounce of marijuana concentrates, at any given time.

Q: An ounce? How much weed is that?

A: In practical terms — a lot. There’s about 28 grams in an ounce, and researchers at the RAND Drug Policy Research Center calculated that the average joint uses about 1/2 gram of marijuana. So that means an ounce of pot can make roughly 60 joints.

Q: Can I drive around with marijuana in my car?

A: Yes, as long as you aren’t consuming it and it is within the legal amount to possess. Driving stoned, however, remains against the law. Not even passengers can smoke under the new law.

Q: How much weed can I buy once shops start selling it?

A: That’s up to the tax department, and the purchasing limits haven’t been ironed out. The law allows for a person to have up to one ounce of marijuana, or one-eighth of an ounce of concentrates at a time, so it would have to be within those limits.

Q: How much will recreational pot cost?

A: Hard to say at this point. Buying an 1/8 ounce of medical marijuana (about 7-8 joints) will run between $30 and $50, depending on the quality of the strain. Recreational marijuana will have additional taxes that are passed on to the consumers, so prices will likely be slightly higher.

Q: How will those taxes work?

A: The state will enact a 15-percent excise tax on the wholesale of marijuana. Those taxes are typically passed onto customers and included in the full retail price to offset the costs incurred by dispensaries. The tax department will determine a “fair market wholesale value” for marijuana to be the basis for that tax.

Otherwise, marijuana, marijuana products and paraphernalia will be subject to standard state and local sales taxes.

Q: Where will those tax dollars go?

A: Revenue from that excise taxes will go directly into the state’s education fund. The other taxes collected will be handled like standard sales taxes: They’ll go to the state, which will distribute the funds to local municipalities and governments.

Q: Can I grow my own marijuana?

A: Unless you live in the most rural parts of Nevada, the answer will likely be no.

To legally grow your own, you will have to live more than 25 miles from a marijuana dispensary. That eliminates the most populous chunks of Clark and Washoe counties — about 80 percent of the state’s population — as only a handful of towns are far enough away to grow in those counties.

Those who do live far enough away to grow marijuana legally will be allowed to grow up to six plants per individual, up to a maximum of 12 plants in residences with more than one person. Plants must be grown where they are not “visible from a public place by normal unaided vision,” according to the language in Question 2.

Q: Can I smoke it in public?

A: Nope. Question 2 specifically outlaws smoking or consuming marijuana in any fashion in public, in a retail shop and in a moving vehicle.

Q: I can smoke cigarettes in casinos. Can I smoke marijuana in them as well?

A: Again, nope. Casinos in Nevada abide by federal law. The Nevada Gaming Commission said in November that allowing or promoting marijuana consumption inside a casino property would be viewed as detrimental to the state’s regulatory reputation and advised gaming companies to keep their distance from pot.

Q: What about in local bars or hookah lounges?

A: Once again, no. But that could change. A bill request from state Sen. Tick Segerblom, D-Las Vegas, would give local governments the authority to permit marijuana consumption in certain areas they see fit, such as bars, parks and other public areas.

Segerblom said he expects recreational marijuana to be a big draw for the more than 42 million visitors that come to Las Vegas each year.

But many of those visitors won’t be able to legally consume their marijuana, as casinos aren’t expected to allow consumption on their properties.

“If you’re going to invite people from all around the world to buy and use marijuana, you need a place for them to use it,” Segerblom said. “They can’t use it in their hotel rooms. They’re going to have it, and use it. I’d rather have a place for them to use it.”

Q: So where can I smoke it legally?

A: The only legal place to smoke or consume cannabis is in a private residence.

Q: What’s the penalty for getting caught smoking in public?

A: Public consumption is a misdemeanor that could bring a citation with a fine up to $600 per offense.

“There are very specific places you can smoke,” said Las Vegas police spokesman Larry Hadfield. “If people are blatantly walking around police committing illegal acts, they should expect legal enforcement.”

Q: Who can sell marijuana?

A: Only licensed dispensaries can sell marijuana. The non-licensed sale of marijuana is a felony.

Q: Can I give marijuana to someone as a gift?

A: As long as it’s under the state’s allowable limit and is going to someone 21 years or older, there’s nothing in the law that says you can’t give marijuana to another adult as a gift.

Q: Can my boss fire me if I test positive for marijuana on a drug screen?

A: Yes. Question 2 does not stop employers from banning marijuana in the workplace. And while you might not be high when tested, having the drug or marijuana metabolites in your system could be considered a firing offense by your employer.

Q: What if I give it to someone under 21?

A: That’s illegal, and is considered a misdemeanor. If they’re under 18, it is a gross misdemeanor.

On Sunday, Nevada joined Colorado, Oregon, Washington and Alaska in legalizing recreational marijuana for adults as the state’s voter-approved measure takes effect. So what is and isn’t be legal? And what does legalization bring with it?