SB344 was recently passed in Nevada. In general, the contents of the bill covers packaging, labeling, and advertising requirements for medical and recreational marijuana with a focus on edible packaging and other miscellaneous dispensary and production requirements. The main emphasis of the bill is to make edible marijuana products less attractive to children. Specifically, all marijuana products must clearly state that they are marijuana products in bold type, say “keep out of reach of children,” and cannot be packaged in anyway that might be appealing to children.
Which Marijuana Products Will SB344 Prohibit?
For example, there can be no cartoons, toys, mascots, or any type of design that resembles a current children’s product on the packaging, which additionally, must be packaged in opaque child resistant packaging. Further, there can be no lollipops, ice cream, or fruit snacks available for sale because of the increased likelihood that a child would get their hands on these types of products.
How SB344 Keeps Marijuana Products Away From Children
The bill then goes into other specific details that entail health requirements such as separate hand washing stations and disclosures that marijuana could be dangerous to children, and have a greater effect on people who are pregnant, using alcohol, or other prescription drugs. Additionally, the bill gives dosage limits for all products containing THC. The bill requires dispensaries to make storage containers available for purchase; again, this is to help prevent children from accessing any type of marijuana product.
What is the Point of SB344?
The main point of SB344 is to set clear safety requirements for the use of marijuana, specifically, to protect children from getting their hands on marijuana products that will now be more readily available. These provisions were supposed to become effective October 1, 2020. However, the Department of Taxation is set to implement the more important safety regulations of this bill to coincide with the July 1st early start date.
Within the last year, Nevada has acquired two professional sports teams and legalized the recreational use of marijuana. While the reaction to the new sports market has been mostly positive, the same does not apply regarding the legalization of marijuana. Let’s take a look at the history of marijuana in Nevada.
Marijuana in Nevada
Marijuana has long been a controversial topic for Nevadans. It was first banned in 1923 as part of a nationwide effort to limit the use of Cannabis during the prohibition era.
Nearly 75 years later, in 1998, the Nevada Medical Marijuana act (Question 9) passed with a 59% approval. However, the initiative required approval in consecutive elections because it was an amendment to the state constitution. The legislation passed for a second time in 2000, with 65% of the vote. The Nevada Medical Marijuana act provided that patients may possess a maximum of 2.5 ounces of usable cannabis as well as an amount of edible or infused products which are the “equivalent” of 2 ½ ounces of usable marijuana and grow a maximum of 12 usable cannabis plants. Cannabis was being tested and used to treat conditions such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Cancer, Auto Immune Diseases, Parkinson’s and Multiple Sclerosis. The approval of using Marijuana to treat these conditions was a major step forward, both medically and socially. While it was apparent that Nevadans understood the medical benefits of marijuana, the Nevada Medical Marijuana act failed to address how one would legally obtain medical cannabis.
History of Recreational Marijuana in Nevada
In 2002, Question 9 went before the voters with a proposal to legalize and regulate recreational cannabis, but was defeated at the polls. Legalized marijuana appeared on the ballot again in 2006 as the “Nevada Regulation of Marijuana Initiative.” The act posed the question of whether the Nevada Revised Statutes would be amended to allow and regulate the sale, use and possession of one ounce or less of marijuana by persons at least 21 years of age, and impose regulations on marijuana retailers. It also questioned whether criminal penalties for causing death or substantial bodily harm when driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol would be considered. However, the initiative received only 44% of the vote, thus it failed.
Medical Marijuana Approval
In 2013, more than a decade after voters approved the Nevada medical marijuana act, the Nevada Legislature finally allowed for the sale of and regulated access to medical cannabis. The Nevada Senate approved a bill, which allowed the licensing of non-profit medical marijuana dispensaries and made it legal to sell, grow, test, and tax marijuana.
The first medical marijuana facility in Nevada opened in Sparks on July 31, 2015. There are now more than 190 operating medical marijuana facilities in the state. In November 2016, Nevada voters narrowly approved the “Initiative to Tax and Regulate Marijuana” making it one of eight states to have legalized the recreational use of cannabis. The measure legalized possession of up to one ounce of marijuana for adults over the age of 21. However, the initiative did not include provisions for regulation beyond taxation, such as licensing retailers.
Recreational Marijuana Early Start Program
As of May 2017, Nevada has approved the “Early Start Program” which will allow for operational medical marijuana facilities in good standing to apply for a recreational license. On July 1st, eligible Nevada dispensaries can begin selling to adults 21 and over. The tax revenues from marijuana sales will be enormous for Nevada’s economy. Additionally, Governor Sandoval plans on applying the revenue from marijuana taxes to fund public education.
After almost a century of prohibition and controversy, Nevada legislation will finally lift the ban on the recreational use of marijuana. Nevada lawmakers are optimistic that the implementation of the new cannabis laws will prove to be profitable.