Nevada US Attorney Nicholas Trutanich Says Marijuana Prosecutions Possible

Posted on: June 9, 2019, 01:00h. 

Last updated on: June 7, 2019, 09:26h.

Nevada US Attorney Nicholas Trutanich says that while marijuana isn’t his office’s focus, the prosecution of those doing business in the cannabis industry isn’t off the table.

Nevada marijuana US attorney Trutanich
Nevada US Attorney Nicholas Trutanich won’t be looking the other way when it comes to marijuana. (Image: KM Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)

Nevada is home to recreational and medicinal marijuana. But it remains an illegal Schedule 1 drug in the eyes of the federal government – the same grouping as heroin, LSD, and ecstasy.

Trutanich sat down with the Reno Gazette Journal to discuss his marijuana viewpoints.

Marijuana remains illegal under federal law, and my job is to enforce federal law,” Trutanich explained. “Nevada is not safe with marijuana at every corner.”

For Nevada casinos, gaming license holders must stay far away from cannabis. The Nevada Gaming Control Act requires that casino permit holders comply with all federal laws.

Not Best Buds

Casinos have the most difficult task of trying to keep marijuana off their premises. Visitors to Nevada have the legal right under state law to purchase recreational cannabis, but then legally have nowhere to consume the product other than in a private residence.

It’s illegal to consume marijuana in hotel rooms and personal vehicles. Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak (D) supports legalizing marijuana consumption lounges. The Democrat says the fact that visitors can purchase weed but have nowhere to consume it is an issue that needs to be addressed.

The Las Vegas City Council passed an ordinance last month to allow such venues. The mandate requires that the lounges be located at least 1,000 feet away from schools, and 1,500 feet from casinos.

However, in a surprise development, the governor recently backed state legislation to put a two-year moratorium on such business licenses. “The governor believes that it’s better to address the issue of consumption lounges the right way than the quick way,” Sisolak spokeswoman Helen Kalla stated.

Nevada state laws supersedes local city ordinances.

The Nevada Resort Association – the voice of the gaming industry that represents casino operators – is opposed to marijuana lounges coming to the state. The group says the venues would create a regulatory headache for its members.

“Recreational marijuana has only been legal in Nevada since 2017,” NRA President Virginia Valentine said last fall. “Consequently, communities have little or no experience with the impacts of lounges on the communities or surrounding businesses.”

General Opinions

US Attorney General William Barr testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee during his confirmation hearing that marijuana manufacturers and distributors working in states where the drug is legal would not be targeted by his Justice Department.

Trutanich isn’t quite so clear as to whether marijuana businesses could be prosecuted.

The Nevada US attorney says combatting the ongoing opioid crisis is near the top of his list of priorities. “Those prescriptions are killing people,” Trutanich said, adding that he plans to go after doctors who overprescribe.

Tasked with overseeing the investigation and litigation of all criminal and civil cases in the District of Nevada, Trutanich expressed his opinion that “drug use and crime go hand in hand.”