Last November, the citizens of Nevada joined the ranks of a handful of others and put an end to pot prohibition; on election day, 55 percent approved recreational legalization. Effectively, this meant that – as of January 1, 2017 – weed was legal in Sin City and everywhere else in the Silver State. Officially, they became the seventh state to eliminate criminal penalties for possession and personal use by adults.

According to Weed News, the new law states that people over 21 can possess up to one ounce of marijuana or 3.5 grams of concentrate

They may also grow up to six plants inside their residence as long as they live 25 miles away from a dispensary.

While all of this is good for the pro-cannabis crowd, many citizens were under the mistaken assumption that they could legally buy pot as soon as the clock struck midnight and the year turned. Unfortunately, it wasn’t that simple.

It’s true that the law took effect on New Year’s Day 2017, but there was nowhere for people to buy (with the exception of those who held a medical marijuana card). In a perfect world, the Kief Fairy would have slipped a bag of Red Dragon underneath the pillow of every weed-wanter; in the real world, there’s lots of red tape.

Nevada, January 1, 2018

Before recreational dispensaries can open, the Nevada Department of Taxation must set forth industry regulations and they have until January 1, 2018 to do this. As soon as those regulations are enacted, dispensaries-to-be can begin applying for recreational licenses. But this involves more time.

The best guess is that the first recreational dispensary won’t open in Nevada until summer of 2018 and possibly early 2019

Coloradoans faced a similar predicament: weed was legal, but no one was (legally) selling it. Though citizens voted for recreational legalization in 2012, the first recreational dispensary didn’t open until January 1, 2014Reform Nevada.

Nevadans shouldn’t have to wait as long as Coloradoans – for one thing, Colorado was in unchartered waters and had a bit of a “make it up as you go” experience. Nevada can not only learn from what Colorado did, but also Washington, Oregon, Alaska, and the District of Columbia.

Of course, Nevada has another edge; they’re used to regulating industries not as prevalent in other states. There’s gambling – which other states do have, but no one does Vegas like Vegas – and there’s legal prostitution too: brothels in rural areas must adhere to very strict regulations.

Recreational Weed in Medical Dispensaries

Citizens might have to wait until 2018 before they can take a selfie outside of Nevada’s first recreational pot shop, but that doesn’t mean they won’t be able to buy weed before the end of the year.

Per the Reno Gazette-Journal, taxation officials are attempting to adopt temporary guidelines by early May. If they do, medical dispensaries that already exist can begin applying for recreational licenses as well. This may allow medical shops to sell recreational weed by July 1. Yet, this comes with questions.

Officials worry that a high demand meets low supply could put people’s recreational needs over medical needs

This could leave medical marijuana patients without cannabis to help with pain, nausea, anxiety, or any of the number of other maladies that weed works to quiet.

To prevent this from happening, regulators are working to implement rules essentially assuring people who need cannabis for medical reasons get it first.

Once new dispensaries open, the supply and demand will most likely even out; in legal states, pot shops are everywhere. The only place they can’t be found on every neighborhood block is inside the city’s that outlaw them.

Frequent Questions about Marijuana Use

In states where recreational legalization is old hash, questions remain. But in newly legalized areas, these questions are understandably more acute. Per the Las Vegas Sun, some of the most common questions Nevadans are asking include:

Can I buy marijuana and take it back to Nevada?

Legally, no. You can’t take marijuana across state lines. However, once you’re in Nevada, police can’t arrest you on the assumption that you bought your weed somewhere else.

Can I fly with marijuana?

Marijuana remains illegal under Nevada Reform federal law; so, if you get caught with pot in your carry-on or suitcase, you can get in trouble. But, TSA agents admit that cannabis isn’t a priority; they’re looking for things that are threats to airline security. Cannabis is only a threat to the warm cookies Frontier used to hand out.

How does buying marijuana in a dispensary work?

It works the same as buying alcohol inside a liquor store: walk in, present your ID, and pay for it. Dispensaries aren’t likely to accept credit cards (technically they’re not supposed to, but some have creative ways of making sure VISA really is everywhere you want to be).

Always bring cash or your ATM card (smart shops will have an ATM on site)

How many dispensaries will open?

The number of dispensaries depends on the size of the county. Clark County, home to Vegas, will allow around 80 recreational licenses for the first 18 months. Not every county will have dispensaries though; citizens maintain the right to vote against them (just as they do medical marijuana facilities). But this doesn’t limit where marijuana use is permitted; on private property, Nevadans can light up anywhere in the state, regardless of county.

Can anyone open a dispensary?

Maybe. Initially, only people who hold medical marijuana licenses will be able to open recreational stores. After that, regulations will determine what qualifications a person must meet before they can be open (and hoping) for business. At best, the earliest someone not already in the industry will be able to open a shop is New Year’s Day, 2019.

Can I smoke pot inside casinos?

Legally, you can’t, but that’s always been the case and it’s never stopped people from using inside their hotel rooms, in bathroom stalls, or in dark crevices of the Strip. After legalization, the casinos will remain “cannabis-free,” but you can press your luck inside the MGM or Excalibur and gamble in more ways than one.

Jenn Keeler

About the author: Jenn Keeler is a freelance writer and illustrator specializing in humorous lifestyle articles. She is one of the few people on earth actually using an English degree. Her heart belongs to the Denver Broncos and her husband. In that order.