Categories
BLOG

nevada medical marijuana growing laws

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.

Nevada medical marijuana growing laws

Most importantly, it’s key that potential patients and growers know their rights when it comes to growing medical marijuana in the state, especially given the ways in which the law may change in the future.

Growing Your Own Medical Cannabis

The current Nevada Revised Statute (“NRS”), 453A.200, allows medical marijuana patients and caregivers to possess, deliver, and produce certain amounts of cannabis. However, the law does not allow patients to grow marijuana unless certain conditions are met. Patients would be well advised to note that these conditions may change after April 1, 2018. Before this date, a patient can be “grandfathered” into being permitted to grow marijuana (by having obtained a patient card prior to July 1, 2013) or they can meet one of the following compassionate care exceptions:

  • Exception 1: A patient may be permitted to grow their
    own cannabis if all of the medical marijuana
    dispensaries in the county of residence of the person
    who holds the patient card are unable to supply
    the quantity or strain of marijuana necessary
    for treatment of that person’s medical condition.
  • Exception 2: A patient may be permitted to grow
    marijuana due to illness or lack of transportation. One
    example being if the person who holds the patient card
    is unable to travel to a medical marijuana dispensary.
  • Exception 3: No medical marijuana dispensary is
    operating within 25 miles of the residence of the person
    who holds the patient card at the time the person first
    applied for his or her patient card.

The first exception—whether a medical marijuana dispensary carries the correct strain for a patient—could present interesting issues going forward. Who will enforce this provision? Will scientific evidence be presented and who would require such proof that strains grown at home are different from those sold in a dispensary? While the second and third exceptions are fairly self-explanatory, it is important to note that the burden will be on the patient to establish that he or she fits within the exception.

Limits on Home Grows

It is important to note that regardless of whether or not a patient grows or purchases their medicine, all patients are bound by the same limits on possession of plants and usable marijuana. Under NRS 453A.200, each patient may possess 2.5 ounces of usable marijuana (or equivalent in edibles) and 12 plants (mature or immature). The language in Nevada’s Revised Statutes states that each person cannot collectively possess more than 12 plants and 2.5 ounces with another person. This leaves rooms for questions such as — what does “collectively possess” mean?

Further, the law requires that each patient must ensure that the usable marijuana or marijuana plants are “safeguarded in an enclosed, secure location.”

Educated and well-informed patients are best able to take advantage of the benefits that Nevada’s flourishing medical marijuana industry has to offer. If you’re a patient or a caregiver who finds yourself an exception to the rule when it comes to growing cannabis in Nevada, it’s a good idea to go over your options to be sure that your medicine can be obtained legally and thoughtfully, before and after April 1, 2018.

Read this article on the Elevate Nevada site here.

Nevada medical marijuana growing laws Most importantly, it’s key that potential patients and growers know their rights when it comes to growing medical marijuana in the state, especially given