New year means new Nevada laws on marijuana, mopeds
December 30, 2016
LAS VEGAS — The new year is ushering in some new laws for Nevadans. Here's a look at what's new on the books for 2017:
Recreational marijuana use for people 21 and over becomes legal in Nevada on Jan. 1, after Nevada voters approved a ballot measure in November.
But authorities emphasize that consumption is not allowed in public places and should be done at home. Using pot in public is a misdemeanor that carries a fine of up to $600.
Driving under the influence of marijuana is illegal. It's also illegal to possess more than one ounce of marijuana or one-eighth of an ounce of concentrated marijuana.
Retail dispensaries are not yet licensed to sell pot for recreational use and can only provide their products to people with valid medical marijuana cards. Officials from the Nevada Department of Taxation, which is crafting regulations for recreational marijuana businesses, has until 2018 to license retail dispensaries but said it's aiming to get that done by the summer.
GUN BACKGROUND CHECKS
Nevada voters narrowly approved a law that calls for background checks on more gun sales and transfers, but officials say they can't enforce it starting Jan. 1 as planned because neither the state nor the FBI is able to conduct the checks.
Question 1 called for FBI background checks on private party gun sales and passed by less than a percentage point. But the FBI informed the state in mid-December that it wants Nevada to conduct the checks because the state databases are more comprehensive.
The Nevada Attorney General's Office released an opinion Wednesday saying the ballot measure doesn't give state agencies the authority to conduct the checks.
Proponents of background checks, including Democratic leaders in the Nevada Senate, said they'll explore whether any legislation can get the background checks going.
Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval vetoed a bill in 2013 that would have imposed similar requirements.
Moped owners must register their vehicles with the DMV or face a citation in the new year, thanks to a law passed in 2015 that aims to stop scooter thieves.
Democratic state Sen. Mo Denis led the charge, saying hundreds of scooters are stolen each year, but owners have no easy way of proving the vehicles belong to them and often can't get them back from impound lots.
Moped owners must bring their vehicles to the DMV to determine the vehicle identification number and verify whether the vehicle is a moped or a motorcycle. Mopeds don't require a motorcycle-specific driver's license, insurance or a helmet, while motorcycles do.
One-time fees for registration are about $60.
TROOPER BODY CAMERAS
A new law effective Jan. 1 requires all Nevada Highway Patrol officers who regularly interact with the public to wear body cameras.
State legislators passed a bill in 2015 that seeks to hold both officers and the public accountable if their encounters go awry. They approved $1.3 million to get the initiative up and running.
The law defines the recordings as a public record but specifies that people who want to see it must request it on a per-incident basis. Legislators also called on the highway patrol to develop policies that would protect the privacy of people in their homes and those who are trying to report a crime anonymously.