Wednesday, 22 November, 2017

State takes steps to solve dispensaries' marijuana shortage

Nevada approves emergency regulations to expand distribution of marijuana Nevada Wholesaler Steps Up to Restock Dispensaries
Laurie Berry | 15 July, 2017, 13:07

Riana Durrett, executive director of the Nevada Dispensary Association, a nonprofit that advocates on behalf of retail pot shops, testified at the hearing that the situation was dire and told stories of stores running low on edibles and popular strains of marijuana.

The supply problem stems from competing interpretations of the state's pot law that dictates only existing alcohol wholesalers can be licensed as pot distributors for 18 months unless there is "insufficient interest" among them to do the job.

The referendum passed previous year by Nevada voters legalizing the drug for recreational use stipulated that for the first 18 months of sales only liquor wholesalers would be allowed to apply to distribute marijuana - a nod to the powerful alcohol industry, which is anxious about new competition from pot.

The state is appealing to the Nevada Supreme Court and the tax panel is expected to approve emergency rules late Thursday that would allow non-alcohol entities to obtain pot distribution licenses. State officials passed emergency regulations so dispensaries can restock their shelves. Kevin Benson stopped short of threatening another lawsuit, but said he's convinced the emergency rules would be invalid.

Under the tax department's expanded regulations, distributors licensed to transport pot in the medical marijuana market, which began operating in the state in 2001, could gain access to the recreational market, according to the Las Vegas Sun.

Tax Commission member Thom Sheets said the answer was clear to him when no distributors had been approved. However, the Nevada Department of Taxation released a statement that, as of July 5, none of the seven alcohol wholesalers that have applied met the application requirements to complete the licensing process. Initially great news for the state's coffers - raising approximately $500,000 in new tax revenue - the state's lack of planning for adequate distribution quickly created a conundrum for dispensaries - a lack of cannabis products.

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The first two have been issued to a Las Vegas-area booze distributor called Rebel One and to an outfit called Crooked Wine Company, which is pairing with a Reno-based marijuana distributor called Blackbird.

The Nevada Tax Commission unanimously approved emergency regulations, opening up the possibility for more businesses, like marijuana dispensaries, to get licensed to transport marijuana and start moving their own products again.

Nevada Department of Taxation spokeswoman Stephanie Klapstein said Thursday a license has been granted for an alcohol wholesaler — Crooked Wine Co.

Nevada's distribution woes are unique among states that have legalized the sale of recreational marijuana. This created a lawsuit that almost delayed the opening of the first retail shops, as alcohol wholesalers fought medical marijuana distributors for the right to produce and distribute cannabis for Nevada's legal market.

Following an overwhelming demand for recreational marijuana, Nevada regulators are considering emergency rules that would expedite licensing for pot distributors.

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