What it means: legalized marijuana
The new marijuana laws, passed with Question 2 will introduwce a host of challenges and changes for the Carson City District Attorney and Sheriff’s Office.
Question 2 was approved by Nevada voters, legalizing recreational marijuana for residents 21 years and older beginning Jan. 1.
It’s legal for those 21 and over to buy and possess less than one ounce of marijuana or 1/8 of an ounce of concentrated cannibals such as hash oil. Residents also are able to grow up to six plants for personal use and 12 plants for households with two or more people, according to the Carson City District Attorney’s Office. However, once the retail marijuana shops open, residents within a 25-mile radius will not be able to grow their own marijuana for personal use.
Several regulations will be in place for users to follow, creating some challenges for law enforcement and the community.
“There will be immediate and long term impacts to look at,” said District Attorney Jason Woodbury.
The immediate change will be the legalization of the drug, however it could take a year or more for the city government to determine the best course of action for certain aspects, including if and where to build retail marijuana establishments.
“For those under 21, the current law remains in effect,” Woodbury said. “In the next year the Department of Taxation will come up with regulations for marijuana establishments, the businesses that will grow, distribute and sell directly to people.”
Currently those regulations aren’t in existence in state law. Earlier this month, the Carson City Planning Commission recommended to the Board of Supervisors an ordinance to put an 180-day moratorium on applications for construction of marijuana establishments. The Board of Supervisors will take up the moratorium at the Jan. 5 meeting.
The measure calls for retail shops to sell the substance by 2018, and state officials are already hashing out details including procedures for determining who gets a license.
“The department is already working to develop temporary regulations,” said Deonne Contine, executive director of the Nevada Department of Taxation, which will regulate recreational weed. “We intend to hold a public workshop very early in 2017 and then have our temporary regulations adopted so we can begin issuing licenses.”
Though this law creates difficulties for law enforcement, Woodbury said they’ve been preparing for this since the question was first introduced.
“We will have to deal with certain issues as we go along, but we have been working closely with the Sheriff’s Office to be as prepared as we can for these new sets of challenges,” Woodbury said. “But it isn’t like we didn’t know it was coming, we have been preparing since the question was put on the ballot. We will just have to deal with it best we can.”
Sheriff Ken Furlong said there isn’t a substantial change for them for enforcement purposes. Furlong said they don’t anticipate the new laws greatly impacting how their K9 deputies conduct their investigations.
“The impact of change at this point, other than enforcement actions for less than once ounce by adults, there isn’t a dramatic shift,” Furlong said. “We still want to make sure we are keeping the drugs out of our schools, out of the reach of juveniles and out of our cars.”
Furlong said it will be frustrating for the department for several months while everyone becomes used to the new laws, but they’ll make sure they’re looking for and taking enforcement action with those under the influence while driving.
Users aren’t allowed to smoke in any public place, including their vehicle, and enforcement will be the same if anyone is under the influence of marijuana while in control of a vehicle.
“We care about your use of marijuana once you get behind the wheel and drive,” said Nevada Highway Patrol Trooper Duncan Dauber. “Those using marijuana cannot judge their own level of impairment and need to understand that any amount of consumption puts individuals at a greater risk of an impaired crash, injury and even death when behind the wheel.”
“Just like alcohol, if your plans involve marijuana, make sure you plan a safe and sober ride home. Never risk your life, or the lives of others, by driving impaired.”
Furlong said they will have zero tolerance for those driving while under the influence of any substance, including marijuana.
Jurisdictions across the state have been focusing on cracking down on impaired driving during their Joining Forces events throughout December and January. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found marijuana users were 25 percent more likely to be involved in a crash than drivers with no evidence of marijuana use.