Carson City District Attorney looks at how to implement pot legalization | NevadaAppeal.com

Carson City District Attorney looks at how to implement pot legalization

Teri Vance
Special to the Nevada Appeal
Carson City District Attorney Jason Woodbury talks about the legalization of recreational marijuana in his office Tuesday. While Carson City adopted a moratorium on marijuana establishments, a city task force continues to work on the implementation process.  Photo by Cathleen Allison/Nevada Photo Source
Cathleen Allison | Nevada Photo Source

Recreational marijuana was legalized in Nevada’s 2016 election, but what does that mean and why don’t I see any stores to buy it?

Partnership Carson City has answered 10 of your most pressing questions.

1. Where can I buy recreational marijuana?

Nowhere … yet. According to Question 2, the Department of Taxation has until Jan. 1, 2018, to create the regulations to govern the dispensaries and sales.

2. How old do I have to be to purchase and use marijuana?

21 and older.

3. How much marijuana can I have?

You can possess up to one ounce of marijuana, or up to 1/8 of an ounce of marijuana concentrates.

4. Can I drive with it?

While you can possess up to an ounce legally, you still cannot drive impaired. Passengers are prohibited from smoking as well.

5. Can I use marijuana at work?

Probably not. Employers can still make their own rules surrounding drug use. It will likely remain a fireable offense.

6. How many dispensaries can we expect to have in Carson City?

Because the capital city’s population is less than 55,000, there can be up to two dispensaries. Larger cities are allowed more. Washoe County can have up to 20; Las Vegas up to 80.

7. Can I grow my own?

Maybe, depending on where you live. People can cultivate not more than six marijuana plants for personal use — up to 12 per household — as long as they live 25 miles or more from a town where a dispensary is available. The plants must be grown within a locked enclosure out of pub-lic view.

8. Where can I consume marijuana?

A private residence is the only place where marijuana can be legally consumed. It is prohibited in public spaces, cars and even casinos, as they are federally regulated.

9. Who can sell marijuana?

Only licensed dispensaries can sell marijuana, otherwise it is a felony.

10. When will we know more?

The Legislature will work some of the kinks during this session. The Department of Taxation is projecting it will have regulations in place by this summer.

As the Nevada Legislature resumes session this week, Carson City District Attorney Jason Woodbury and other officials are looking for clarification on how to implement the legalization of recreational marijuana, which was approved by Nevada voters in November’s election.

“We’re watching the Legislature closely,” Woodbury said. “It would be nice to have some Legislative guidance in some of the areas Question 2 opened up.”

For now, Carson City is in a holding pattern. The measure, which legalized the recreational use of marijuana starting Jan. 1, allowed the Department of Taxation one year to craft regulations of the approved establishments.

“Carson City adopted a moratorium on marijuana establishments until we see the regulations,” Woodbury said. “We’re in the gap period.”

The Department of Taxation expects to have the regulations drawn up by summer.

“We’ll want to see what those regulations look like, and we’ll add any regulations we need to protect the people of Carson City,” Woodbury said. “In theory, it could be ready by the end of the year. It could be longer.”

While users can grow their own plants – six per person or up to 12 per household – they’re prohibited from doing so within 25 miles of an approved establishment. Only those establishments will be allowed to sell it.

“That was one of the hidden caveats of the bill,” Woodbury explained. “Believe me, it’s big business.”

Woodbury said a city task force is meeting to iron out the process of implementing the new law.

“To some extent, the writing was on the wall, and we knew the passage was a very real possibility,” he said. “We were preparing for its passage for a long time. You think you can evaluate every scenario that might come up. We have a handle, certainly, on the basics, but there’s a lot of filling in the gaps.

“As the law goes into effect, and we see real-life scenarios we didn’t think of, there’s a lot of work to do.”

Law enforcement has already had to address the use of drug dogs in detecting controlled substances inside a vehicle. The dogs are trained to alert officers of an array of drugs, including marijuana, which is no longer illegal.

“We work very closely with the sheriff’s office to establish general protocol,” he said. “There needs to be additional questions asked now to assess if the substance is marijuana before officers can determine probable cause to search a vehicle.”

There also needs to be some refining when determining if a person is driving under the influence of the drug.

“We’re in a strange new area,” Woodbury said.

They do have some insight, however.

“Because we’ve gone through the legalization of medical marijuana, I would anticipate this would be more streamlined,” he said. “We have a model.”