Being caught with drugs—whether it’s something as benign as pot or something as serious as heroin—is no minor event. In the state of Nevada, drug possession charges carry serious penalties. Though attitudes about marijuana are changing across the country, you can still face criminal charges for being a casual marijuana smoker.

And all other drugs and controlled substances are treated with potentially harsh penalties. Whether the drug in question is something like cocaine or heroin, or a club or rave drug commonly charged in Las Vegas club busts, like Ecstasy (MDMA, Molly) you can be at risk of actual prison time.

As is true within most states, the charge and penalty you face for a drug possession charge in Nevada depends on several factors. How much of the substance you are caught with and how many times you’ve been charged with a similar crime before all play a role.

Nevada Marijuana Possession Laws

Nevada legalized marijuana in November 2016 and the law went into effect on January 1, 2017.

It is now fully legal to possess:

  • Up to an ounce of marijuana
  • Up to 3.5 grams of cannabis concentrates, such as cannabis oil, wax, shatter, dabs, or butane hash oil (BHO).
  • You are allowed to grow up to 6 plants in your home if you are more than 25 miles from a marijuana retailer.
  • You can give away marijuana, but not sell it. Selling it is still a serious criminal offense.
  • You can’t smoke in public, but that is generally a civil offense.

There is no legal place to buy marijuana until a full retail licensing infrastructure (with a 15% tax rate) is up and running in 2018.


Ref: NRS §453.336

If you are caught in possession of more than a single ounce, it will be assumed that you intended on distributing. Marijuana distribution charges are far more serious than simple possession charges and carry significant prison sentences upon conviction.

Possession of Cocaine, Ecstasy, Heroin, Meth

Rave is KingIn many states, drug possession charges are separated by drug type and amount seized. In Nevada, it’s far simpler. Heroin, cocaine, meth, or rave drugs like Ecstasy/Molly/MDMA or mushrooms, and even many prescription drugs carry the same potential charge and penalties. Whether or not you have prior drug convictions on your record, however, could change the severity of the charge you face.

First and Second Offense

If it is your first or second drug charge and you are caught with any controlled substance, you will face Class E felony charges. Yes, just possession of these substances is a felony offense in the State of Nevada.

A class E felony charge carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 1 year and up to 4 years in prison.

Third Offense

If this marks the third or greater drug offense for you, and you are charged with possessing any controlled substance, you will face Class D felony charges. A Class D felony carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 1 year and up to four with a fine reaching $20,000.

Ref: NRS §453.336

Nevada drug possession laws are filled with exceptions and enhancements. So even though many of these charges are felonies with mandatory prison time, there are options.

For one thing, many drug busts don’t hold up in court. You could be a victim of an illegal search and seizure if the police didn’t have the proper reason to search you, and you didn’t give permission.

There are also plea deals and sometimes sentencing alternatives like drug treatment.

The options and defense alternatives are complicated.

Discussing your case with a local defense lawyer will help you get a better picture of what you’re facing and what can be done to minimize the impact it has on your life.

We will go over the best options for your exact case in a free consultation with a local defense lawyer.