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Nevada’s medical marijuana laws were approved in 1998. It took well over a decade before medical patients could enter a licensed dispensary and buy cannabis-infused products. Despite the setback, Nevada’s medical marijuana laws are a welcome change to the long-held cannabis prohibition. Under the Nevada Medical Marijuana Act, you can get a medical marijuana card if you are 18 and older or have a parent caregiver.

Nevada’s medical marijuana laws are continually changing to improve the patient’s experience. In fact, it recently made news by becoming the first state to institute protections for medical cannabis users from employment discrimination with some reasonable exceptions. That’s great news for the over 17,000 current active patients. If you’re interested in using cannabis for medicinal purposes, here’s an introduction to Nevada’s medical marijuana laws.

Medical Marijuana History

Nevada voters passed the Nevada Medical Marijuana Act in 1998 and then again in 2000 with a 65 percent majority vote. Under Nevada law, a constitutional amendment requires approval in consecutive elections. The law went into effect in 2001 and allows Nevada residents with at least one of the qualifying conditions to grow and consume medical cannabis. Delays in the regulatory process pushed commercial sales back until 2013 when Governor Brian Sandoval approved Senate Bill 374.

Cannabis was legalized on November 8, 2016, with a 54 percent majority vote. The law took effect the following year and allows adults 21 and older to buy and consume marijuana. The law also merged the medical and adult-use programs into one entity administered by the Nevada Department of Taxation. The Division of Public and Behavioral Health manages the Medical Marijuana Patient Cardholder Registry.

How to Apply for a Medical Card

Nevada’s medical marijuana act created a medical marijuana registry for qualifying patients. If you want to qualify to participate in the medical program, you must first receive a medical marijuana recommendation from a licensed medical marijuana doctor on-site or online. They’ll look over your medical history to check if any of your medical conditions can be alleviated with cannabis.

You can apply for a medical marijuana card online or by mail. To apply online, visit the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services website. You can also request an application form in writing or send your printed and completed application with all the required documentation and fees via mail, email, or fax to:

Nevada Division of Public and Behavioral Health
Attn: Medical Marijuana Division
4150 Technology Way, Suite 101
Carson City, Nevada 89706
Fax: 775-684-3213

If you want to apply online, you’ll need to create an online account for the medical marijuana program. Once you have an account, you can complete the appropriate application. There’s a specific one for minors. Make sure to note your primary caregiver’s information on the form, if applicable. Scan your driver’s license or another form of valid photo ID to prove that you’re a Nevada resident. Finally, you’ll pay the application cost: $50 for one year of $100 for two years.

You will receive a letter of approval within 10 days. With the letter, you can purchase medical marijuana until your medical marijuana card arrives in the mail within two weeks after receiving the approval letter.


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Qualifying Conditions

In order to receive a medical marijuana card, you must be diagnosed with a debilitating or chronic medical condition with symptoms that can be relieved with cannabis. Currently, over 15,000 patients cite severe pain as a condition. Almost 3,000 patients use cannabis for muscle spasms, the second most common qualifying condition. Patients can have more than one of the following qualifying conditions:

  • Cachexia
  • Persistent muscle spasms (including multiple sclerosis)
  • Seizures (including epilepsy)
  • AIDS
  • Severe nausea or pain
  • Cancer
  • Glaucoma
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Other chronic or debilitating conditions can be approved by the Nevada Division of Public and Behavioral Health

Purchasing, Possession, and Cultivation

Most marijuana dispensaries in Nevada are intended for patients, caregivers, and adults 21 and older, although there are some medical-only dispensaries in rural areas. Recreational-only dispensaries have also started applying for licenses.

Medical marijuana patients can purchase 2.5 oz of useable cannabis (including flower, edibles, concentrates, and topicals) per 14-day period with a valid medical card. Patients also avoid paying an excise tax for purchases. Medical patients are allowed to grow up to 12 marijuana plants in an enclosed, secure area, but only for the following reasons:

  • There is no medical dispensary in the county you live in.
  • You live more than 25 miles from a licensed dispensary.
  • You are unable to travel due to your medical condition.
  • Local dispensaries aren’t providing the specific strain of cannabis that you need for treatment.

Consuming Cannabis

Public cannabis consumption is illegal in Nevada. If you want to smoke or vape, you’re going to have to do it on private property, although property owners can prohibit consumption on their property. Cannabis consumption is also not allowed by anyone inside in a moving vehicle.

Designated Provider/Caregiver

If you require a primary caregiver, you can only choose one person who is over 18 years old and a Nevada resident. The primary caregiver must also only have one patient at a time and can’t use cannabis themselves. A primary caregiver is anyone who has “significant responsibility for managing the well-being of a person diagnosed with a chronic or debilitating medical condition.”

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Lab Testing

Cannabis grown in Nevada must be tested by a third-party analytical laboratory licensed to test marijuana before products are sold to customers. Nevada has been stringent in its testing methods, which have led to some lab license suspensions. Labs must conduct a variety of tests including:

  • Pesticide residue analysis
  • Fungal mycotoxin screening
  • Microbial screening
  • Herbicide screening
  • Moisture content
  • Heavy metal screening
  • Foreign matter inspection
  • Growth regulator screening
  • Potency
  • Terpenes

Almost 12,000 patients come from Clark County alone. Washoe County has the second-highest patient count with 3,004 patients. Despite the limited selection of dispensaries, medical users can grow their own weed to supplement their medicinal needs.

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