Uh-Oh! Weed Shortage in Nevada Prompts 'State of Emergency' from Governor

Andrew Cummings
July 15, 2017

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.

The Reno Gazette Journal is reporting that Rebel One and Crooked Wine Company were awarded Nevada's first marijuana distribution licenses earlier this week, allowing the two companies to transport products from cultivation facilities to state authorized dispensaries.

The department issued a "statement of emergency", which means state officials could adopt emergency measures to combat the shortage.

Demand has been strong since recreational use was legalised on 1 July.

While the state had given alcohol distributors sole rights for the first 18 months of sales, a court battle and bureaucracy kept any licenses from being approved for almost the first two weeks.

The Nevada Tax Commission was scheduled to consider a new regulation Thursday in Carson City to license some pot retailers to serve as their own middleman if there aren't enough alcohol distributors to do the job.

Kevin Benson, the alcohol group's lawyer, stopped short of threatening another lawsuit.

"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.

Only seven of Nevada's almost 70 liquor distributors had applied for marijuana licenses when retail sales began July 1, and the state only issued its first on Wednesday, almost two weeks later.

Department Executive Director Deonne Contine urged the panel to approve an emergency regulation that would allow the state to license existing pot retailers to transport products from growers to stores if it turns out there aren't enough alcohol distributors to do the job.

Tax commissioners charged with enforcing the unusual administrative structure that has led to a distribution bottleneck got their first real taste of the potential crisis at retail dispensaries during a three-hour hearing on Thursday. 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.

Even with this monopoly on offer, too few interested parties stepped forward, so the state tried to give distribution licenses to marijuana companies.

The tax department director, Deonne Contine, said that of the almost 70 liquor wholesalers in Nevada, seven had applied to transport marijuana.

Following an overwhelming demand for recreational marijuana, Nevada regulators are considering emergency rules that would expedite licensing for pot distributors. On Thursday, the Tax Commission adopted an emergency regulation its lawyers believe should satisfy Wilson's concerns by establishing specific criteria to decide whether there's sufficient interest among alcohol distributors.

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