Sin City Goes Green

Nevada's recreational cannabis market has gone live — here's how it compares to Washington

You'd think that Nevada, a state that's home to Las Vegas, where both drinking on the street and prostitution are legal, would be cool with a little weed. Well, that hasn't historically been the case for the state, which had some harsh cannabis laws on the books for years.

But in November, Nevada voters approved a law that allows adults 21 and older to purchase cannabis at state-approved retailers. Nevada joins Colorado, Alaska, Oregon and, of course, Washington (as well as the District of Columbia) as states that have legalized cannabis. California, Massachusetts and Maine also approved recreational pot, but have yet to open stores.

Before you add dispensary tours to the itinerary for your next Las Vegas trip, let's see how the state's regulations compare to those in effect here in Washington.

Maximum amount

Nevada's law allows an individual to possess an ounce of cannabis. This is the same as in Washington. The two states' laws have a few differences when it comes to concentrates and edibles, however.

Medical or recreational

One of the issues that arose after the passage of Washington's Initiative 502 in 2012: Some critics felt that it didn't adequately address how the state's existing medical marijuana program would be integrated into the recreational market. Nevada seems to have learned from that confusion, exempting medical cardholders from some of the taxes on marijuana.

Public use

As in Washington, public use of cannabis is forbidden under Nevada's new laws, with violators being slapped with a $600 fine. So you won't be toking up while walking down the Strip. In fact, the law prohibits marijuana consumption on any casino property.


One of the most appealing aspects of recreational weed markets has been the taxes they generate for the state. Nevada's taxes vary depending on county, but in Clark County, where Las Vegas is located, the total tax markup is about 32 percent when everything is figured in. Taxes in Washington are 37 percent. The Evergreen State is expected to bring in $730 million in cannabis taxes in the next two years.

Home growing

Here in Washington, it's still illegal to grow your own weed. In Nevada, however, adults are allowed to grow six plants if they reside 25 miles or more away from a retailer. ♦

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About The Author

Mike Bookey

Mike Bookey was the culture editor for The Inlander from 2012-2016. He previously held the same position at The Source Weekly in Bend, Ore.