By Teri Vance
As the Nevada Legislature resumes session this week, Carson City District Attorney Jason Woodbury and other officials are looking for clarification how to implement the legalization of recreational marijuana, which was approved by Nevada voters in November’s election.
“We’re watching the Legislature closely,” Woodbury said. “It would be nice to have some Legislative guidance in some of the areas Question 2 opened up.”
For now, Carson City is in a holding pattern. The measure, which legalized the recreational use of marijuana starting Jan. 1, allowed the Department of Taxation one year to craft regulations of the approved establishments.
“Carson City adopted a moratorium on marijuana establishments until we see the regulations,” Woodbury said. “We’re in the gap period.”
The Department of Taxation expects to have the regulations drawn up by summer.
“We’ll want to see what those regulations look like, and we’ll add any regulations we need to protect the people of Carson City,” Woodbury said. “In theory, it could be ready by the end of the year. It could be longer.”
While users can grow their own plants — six per person or up to 12 per household — they are prohibited from doing so within 25 miles of an approved establishment. Only those establishments will be allowed to sell it.
“That was on of the hidden caveats of the bill,” Woodbury explained. “Believe me, it’s big business.”
Woodbury said a city task force is meeting to iron out the process of implementing the new law.
“To some extent, the writing was on the wall, and we knew the passage was a very real possibility,” he said. “We were preparing for its passage for a long time. You think you can evaluate every scenario that might come up. We have a handle, certainly, on the basics, but there’s a lot of filling in the gaps.
“As the law goes into effect, and we see real-life scenarios we didn’t think of, there’s a lot of work to do,” he said.
Law enforcement has already had to address the use of drug dogs in detecting controlled substances inside a vehicle. The dogs are trained to alert officers of an array of drugs, including marijuana, which is no longer illegal.
“We work very closely with the sheriff’s office to establish general protocol,” he said. “There needs to be additional questions asked now to assess if the substance is marijuana before officers can determine probable cause to search a vehicle.”
There also needs to be some refining when determining if a person is driving under the influence of the drug.
“We’re in a strange new area,” Woodbury said.
They do have some insight, however.
“Because we’ve gone through the legalization of medical marijuana, I would anticipate this would be more streamlined,” he said. “We have a model.”