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Nevada lawmakers last week passed an omnibus marijuana reforms bill that increases the possession limit on cannabis and gives licensed dispensaries new flexibility to serve both medical marijuana patients and adult-use cannabis customers. The measure, Senate Bill 277, received final approval from the Nevada legislature on June 5 and now awaits action from Republican Gov. Joe Lombardo.
The legislation makes several substantial changes to Nevada’s laws governing marijuana, which was legalized for medical use in the state in 2001. In 2016, voters passed Question 2, a ballot measure that legalized recreational marijuana in Nevada for adults 21 and older.
Nevada lawmakers have passed a bill to increase marijuana possession limits and offer new
Senate Bill 277 more than doubles the possession and purchase limits for marijuana, increasing the cap from one ounce of cannabis to 2.5 ounces. The legislation also doubles the limits for cannabis concentrates from one-eighth of an ounce to a quarter ounce.
Possession and purchase limits are commonly included in state laws to legalize cannabis in an effort to prevent regulated cannabis from being resold on the illicit market. But Democratic state Sen. Dallas Harris, the primary sponsor of the legislation, noted in a recent meeting of the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee that such provisions unfairly target cannabis.
“There’s no assumption that if I’m buying a 48-pack of beer, I must be doing something illicit with it afterwards,” Harris told the committee in April.
During public testimony for the legislation, witnesses appearing to oppose the bill noted that consumers can already circumvent the current cannabis purchase limits by visiting multiple dispensaries, leading Harris to note that such purchases are illegal.
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“Please do not do that,” Harris responded. “That is currently a felony. …hence why we’re trying to up the possession limit and allow folks to be able to engage in that kind of bulk buying if they’d like, whether it be for medical reasons or for none of our damn business.”
Bill Allows Recreational Pot Dispensaries To Sell Medical Marijuana
The legislation also allows all adult-use cannabis dispensaries to sell cannabis products to medical marijuana patients. Beginning next year, state regulators would no longer be able to issue new licenses for medical marijuana businesses, except in areas that have prohibited the operation of recreational cannabis businesses.
Senate Bill 277 also relaxes a ban on individuals with felony convictions from obtaining licenses to operate or work at cannabis businesses in Nevada. Under the measure, the Nevada Cannabis Compliance Board would be authorized to issue licenses to businesses with stakeholders that have prior felony convictions if the agency “determines that doing so would not pose a threat to the public health or safety or negatively impact the cannabis industry in this State,” according to the text of the legislation cited by Marijuana Moment. The board would be required to “impose any conditions and limitations on the granting of an exemption that the Board determines necessary to preserve the public health and safety or mitigate the impact of granting the exemption on the cannabis industry in this State.”
The legislation also eliminates a ban on those with certain prior felony convictions from being employed in Nevada’s regulated cannabis industry. Under the bill, individuals with such convictions would be permitted to petition the state to work at a licensed cannabis business without first having their records expunged. Abby Kaufmann, the secretary of the nonprofit trade group the Chamber of Cannabis, said that the measure is designed to give those with prior felonies new opportunities to stay on the right side of the law.
“We’re hoping to allow a way to enter the workforce to reduce recidivism by increasing those opportunities,” Kaufmann told local media. “And also to hopefully mitigate some of the unlicensed market. What if people aren’t able to work in this growing industry and that cannabis is their background?”
Senate Bill 277 now heads to Lombardo, who has already vetoed at least two dozen pieces of legislation since taking office at the beginning of the year.