A flurry of laws passed by the Nevada legislature earlier this year will come into effect Friday – ushering in reforms that majority Democratic lawmakers in the Senate and State Assembly have long campaigned to implement.
Five years after state voters approved the legalization of recreational cannabis in Nevada, business owners can now apply for licenses to establish on-site consumption lounges, where adults can smoke, dab or eat the products. edibles that contain THC that they buy.
A law introduced by Assembly Member Steve Yeager that allows the Cannabis Compliance Council to begin accepting requests comes into effect on Friday. Once licensed, the lounges will become Nevada’s first public places where cannabis products can be consumed recreationally.
The state’s emerging cannabis industry has promoted the shows for their economic development potential and touted them as a draw for the millions of tourists who visit Las Vegas each year but cannot legally use the products in locations. places like hotels.
The licensing system created under the new law prioritizes black and Latino applicants who have been “harmed by provisions of previous laws that criminalized cannabis-related activities.”
A points-based system for scoring candidates was introduced after data showed the state’s cannabis industry to be disproportionately white and male – a finding that concerned lawmakers and lawyers who said it highlighted racial disparities in the way drug offenses were prosecuted prior to legalization.
Licensing fees for salons range from $ 10,000 to $ 100,000, but may be reduced for applicants affected by previous drug laws. Nevada is now one of the seven states that now allow cannabis salons.
Other new state laws in effect:
Use of force by the police
Following the 2020 protests following the murder of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor by police last year, lawmakers passed a bill to change the standards for which law enforcement officers in Nevada can use the deadly force. It requires ministries to adopt de-escalation techniques as part of their training and to use lethal force only when it is “objectively reasonable in the circumstances”.
The law also restricts police use of restraint chairs, prohibits officers from firing rubber bullets or tear gas indiscriminately to disperse protests, and requires departments to systematically submit reports on the use of force to the government. state attorney general.
No strike warrant
After Breonna Taylor died in a police raid on her Kentucky home, state houses across the country decided to limit the type of no-strike warrants that were the pretext used to enter the black woman’s house.
In Nevada, a bill sponsored by Attorney General Aaron Ford that becomes law on Friday narrows when departments can seek no-hit warrants in cases where they are needed to prevent destruction of evidence or protect officer safety. . Law enforcement agencies said warrants were rarely issued or used in Nevada. Ford argued that there was a need to enshrine what was previously only police department policy into state law.
Model and practice surveys
Another measure promoted by Ford extends the jurisdiction of its office to investigate police misconduct. The Attorney General can now conduct “model and practice” investigations in light of suspected police misconduct to determine whether the misconduct stems from the policies, customs and culture of the department or of individual officers.
Supporters said the external oversight would help fight discriminatory patterns and practices, while opponents, including the union representing Las Vegas deputy sheriffs, denounced it as political and unnecessary.
Pay equity and transparency
Employers can no longer ask applicants about their wages under a new law aimed at tackling gender inequalities. Employers – including private companies, governments and schools – should not ask about salary history and must specify a salary range for potential workers under the new law, or face administrative penalties. and fines of up to $ 5,000 from the state labor commissioner.
Driving license suspensions
Tens of thousands of drivers have their licenses suspended every year in Nevada, most because they don’t pay tickets. Courts can no longer suspend the driver’s licenses of people who do not pay fees, fines or tickets under $ 5,000 under a new law.
Democrats supporting the law have said license suspensions disproportionately affect low-income residents. Lawyers said license suspensions often exacerbate problems, making it more difficult to maintain jobs and incurring rising fees, including one required to reinstate suspended licenses.
The Department of Motor Vehicles will begin sending postcards to drivers deemed safe and eligible for automatic license reinstatement under the new law, whether or not they can pay their fines and fees.
Sam Metz is a member of the Associated Press / Report for America Statehouse News Initiative corps. Report for America is a national, nonprofit service program that places reporters in local newsrooms to cover undercover issues.