Nevada OKs regulation to fix recreational marijuana shortage


Nevada voted in favour of legalising recreational use of marijuana in November, following similar moves in several other states.

A lawyer for the Independent Alcohol Distributors of Nevada, which won that injunction, told the tax commissioners on Thursday the emergency regulation they were considering would be just as illegal as an earlier one Wilson threw out.

Regulators approved emergency rules that would speed up licensing for pot distributors, a sticking point that launched a legal battle and threatened the flow of supplies after dozens of retailers started selling recreational marijuana on July 1.

The referendum passed past 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.

In the meantime, the department awarded distribution licenses this week to one alcohol wholesaler in Reno and one in Las Vegas.

Nevada's distribution woes are unique among states that have legalized the sale of recreational marijuana.

This little ditty makes the pending empty shelves a real issue to interested parties even beyond the average weed consumer. A second was approved Thursday, the Reno Gazette-Journal reported, but a lack of interest - especially when compared to the 87 marijuana companies vying for approval - risked sending dispensaries into the red.

The 47 retailers now licensed to sell recreational pot previously operated as medical marijuana outlets, which were allowed to move products between cultivators, manufacturers and retail store fronts.

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Endorsed and signed by Gov. Sandoval on Friday, the emergency distribution regulations are now in full effect.

But representatives of several of the 47 retailers now licensed to sell recreationally testified before the tax panel Thursday their shelves are almost empty because there's no distribution mechanism that allows them to restock.

Nevada has approved an emergency regulation aimed at solving a marijuana shortage by expanding who is allowed to transport the drug from cultivation facilities to retail dispensaries.

"We didn't know the demand would be this intense", Al Fasano, co-founder of Las Vegas ReLeaf, said on Tuesday.

"There's room in this market for plenty of more", Contine said, adding that she's hopeful some additional alcohol wholesalers could be licensed in the days or weeks ahead.

However, some of the 47 licensed retailers have reported twice as much business as they anticipated, said Nevada Tax Department spokeswoman Stephanie Klapstein.

As of Thursday, of the almost 70 liquor wholesalers in the state, seven had applied for transportation licences. The state is challenging the interpretation of that law because of the bottleneck.

The department declared the need for the emergency rules last week after marijuana retailers recorded more than 40,000 transactions in the first weekend.