Nevada’s Recreational Marijuana Sales in Limbo


A Nevada judge, in a decision that could delay the planned July 1 start of recreational marijuana sales, has ruled in favor of alcohol distributors and against the state’s Tax Department.

Carson City District Judge James Wilson.

Carson City District Judge James Wilson issued an 11-page ruling reversing the Tax Department’s decision to allow more than just alcohol wholesalers to transport recreational marijuana from farms to retail outlets.

Nevada voters approved a ballot measure in November giving alcohol wholesalers the exclusive right to distribute pot for 18 months.

The state’s Tax Department–which had wanted at least some legal dispensaries to serve as both retailer and distributor to meet the anticipated demand–indicated in a statement late Tuesday that they remain determined to launch the first sales next month.

“The Department is reviewing the court’s decision with the Attorney General’s office and will explore all legal avenues to proceed with the program as provided in the regulations,” the statement said.

“We are committed to ensuring the vote of the people to provide for the legal purchase of marijuana from a strictly regulated market will proceed on July 1,” the statement said.

Liquor Wholesalers’ Exclusivity Hopes Might Be Up In Smoke

Wilson’s ruling determined that the Independent Alcohol Distributors of Nevada would suffer irreparable harm if the Tax Department issued retail marijuana distributor licenses to other businesses.

State tax officials have tried to begin an “early start” recreational program on July 1 to reap millions of dollars in tax revenue before a permanent regulatory system is required to be in place on January 1.

The judge’s order limiting licenses strictly to liquor wholesalers is a major roadblock to the tax office’s plan. Only five liquor wholesalers have applied for licenses to distribute marijuana compared with the more than 80 applications from existing marijuana businesses. None of the five has met the legal requirements.

Published on June 21, 2017
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