As advocates and supporters of the Question Two campaign, we are still feeling the “buzz” from Tuesday’s election results. Nevadans agree that adults should not be punished for choosing to use marijuana, privately and responsibly. As we move forward, many people are starting to question when and where this legal marijuana can be purchased and how this will affect Nevada’s medical marijuana Program.

The effective date of Initiative Petition 1 is January 1, 2017. That does not mean adults over 21 can go into a dispensary on January 1, 2017 and legally purchase “recreational” marijuana. Rather, the Department of Taxation has 12 months from that date to issue regulations and begin accepting applications for marijuana establishments that will sell recreational marijuana, or dual licensees, which can sell both recreational and medical marijuana.

The Department of Taxation must approve or deny an application within 90 days after receipt of the application. Therefore, it is anticipated that legal recreational sales will occur by April of 2018, at the latest. However, Senator Tick Segerblom, widely considered the “godfather of marijuana” in Nevada, has again taken the lead on marijuana in Nevada and is organizing a trip to Oregon to do research on their “Early Start” program. If Senator Segerblom finds that a similar program would be successful in Nevada, then the Nevada legislature could enact a similar “Early Start” program to allow legal sales of recreational marijuana prior to 2018.

So what becomes legal on January 1, 2017, the effective date of Initiative Petition 1? It appears that as of January 1, people will be able to possess, use, and consume up to 1 ounce of marijuana and 1/8th of an ounce of concentrated marijuana. Initiative Petition 1 imposes a 15% excise sales tax in addition to state and local sales, which will be used to pay for costs of administering the program and toward the State’s school distributive account. While possession and consumption is legal January 1, 2017, you must stay tuned on the date legal purchases can be made.

With regards to the impact on the medical marijuana program, Initiative Petition 1 states that nothing in the Petition shall be construed to affect the medical marijuana program.   Therefore, patients do not need to worry that their rights or understanding of the medical marijuana program will change in any way.