Seizure of Marijuana by DEA Declines, but Drugs Arrests Spike

There is an ever-growing tension between the federal government and state governments across the country when it comes to the enforcement of certain marijuana laws. A number of states, Nevada included, have rolled back prohibitions on possessing small amounts of marijuana. In stark contrast, federal law enforcement agencies, namely the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), continue to seize marijuana and ramped up the number of arrests for marijuana possession in 2018.

According to data in the DEA’s Domestic Cannabis Eradication/Suppression Statistical Report, the agency and its law enforcement partners confiscated more than 2.8 million marijuana plants across the country in 2018. This represents a 17 percent decline in marijuana seizures from the agency’s 2017 totals and a staggering 66 percent decline since 2016, according to

Does this mean DEA is focusing less on marijuana seizures? Not so.

The seizure of indoor cannabis plants nearly doubled between 2017 an 2018 (increasing from 304,000 indoor plants seized in 2017 to nearly 600,000 seized plants in 2018). In addition, DEA reported more than 5,600 marijuana-related arrests in 2018, which represents a 20 percent increase over 2017 data.

Marijuana Laws in Nevada

In Nevada, it is now legal for adults over the age of 21 to possess up to one ounce of marijuana. However, you can only possess this amount of marijuana in a private residence. However, there is an important caveat for individuals residing in, or visiting, Las Vegas. Adults over the age of 21 are allowed to possess and smoke marijuana legally in licensed social use venues in Las Vegas.

As you can see, the roll back of marijuana prohibitions in and around Las Vegas is rather limited. In other scenarios, it remains a crime to possess or sell marijuana. The specific laws and penalties you should be aware of include the following:

  • If you are caught smoking marijuana in a public area, you could be charged with a misdemeanor and ordered to pay $600.
  • It remains against the law to use marijuana in a Las Vegas hotel room, a casino, a bar, park, etc.
  • However, as mentioned earlier, smoking in a licensed social use venues is legal in Las Vegas.

First-Time Offense for Marijuana Possession or Cultivation

If you were charged with being in possession of more than one ounce of marijuana and it is your first-time offense, the law is not very lenient. You could actually be charged with a category E felony. Yes, a felony offense for a first-time offender. If you are convicted of this offense, you could be ordered to serve probation and possibly pay a fine.

If you were charged with cultivating marijuana and it is your first-time offense, you could be looking at a misdemeanor offense. If convicted, you could be ordered to pay a $600 fine. However, if you reside more than 25 miles away from a licensed marijuana dispensary, then you are allowed to grow up to six marijuana plants.

If you were charged with selling marijuana and it is your first-time offense, you could be looking at a category B felony. If convicted, you could be ordered to serve up to six years in prison.

Arrested for Marijuana Possession? Contact an Experienced Las Vegas Drug Crime Defense Lawyer

If you or a family member was arrested for possessing, cultivating, or selling marijuana in or around Las Vegas, now is the time for action. Being arrested for a criminal offense is a traumatic and stressful event. Your liberty and freedom could be at stake. This is why you should contact LV Criminal Defense to schedule a free, confidential case evaluation.

Our team of Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys are here to help.