Legal Recreational Sales Set to Begin July 1 in Nevada

marijuana-glass-jarsWith other states trying to find any way in their power to delay voter-approved legalized cannabis sales, it looks like Nevada consumers will officially be able to make purchases on July 1 — and they better buy in bulk because there’s no restock in sight.

Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval signed an emergency regulation on Thursday that ensures existing medical marijuana dispensaries will be permitted to sell off their remaining inventory of cannabis products to adults over the age of 21 beginning on July 1.

When Nevada voters passed Question 2 in November, they accepted a portion of the measure that gives alcohol wholesalers exclusive distribution rights during the first 18 months of adult-use marijuana sales. In other words, only alcohol distributors can transport cannabis products from suppliers to retailers during this period.

Only five alcohol distributors submitted applications for cannabis licenses, and the Nevada Department of Taxation, who oversees the state’s legal cannabis market, did not deem any one of the five applications complete or ready for approval. The Tax Department wanted to open up the licensing process to already-established cannabis companies but were met with a lawsuit from the five liquor distributors with pending cannabis applications.

Carson City District Judge James Wilson agreed with the liquor wholesalers, ruling last Tuesday that the exclusive rights laid out in the ballot question should be upheld. Gov. Sandoval’s Thursday decision represents somewhat of a compromise, allowing dispensaries that have already been issued medical licenses by the state to sell their remaining products without stipulating whether the product was originally intended for medical or recreational clientele. The dispensaries will not be able to replenish their reserves, though, as the regulations on distribution rights revert back to the Judge’s ruling (and the language in Question 2) after a dispensary has exhausted its inventory.

Over 80 companies are currently approved by the State of Nevada to conduct business in the legal cannabis market, including 25 dispensaries in the Las Vegas-area. According to Tax Department spokeswoman Stephanie Klapstein, “The department is preparing an appeal to Tuesday’s ruling” in reference to Judge Wilson’s decision to uphold the alcohol wholesaler monopoly on cannabis distribution.

Gov. Sandoval’s emergency regulation created an aggressive buyer’s market in Nevada, as licensed dispensaries attempt to stock up on every last gram of cannabis available before the July 1 cutoff.

Image Courtesy of Allie Beckett

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