- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Nevada regulators are considering adopting emergency measures to restock the shelves of the state’s recreational marijuana dispensaries as pot shops risk running out of weed hardly a week after starting retail sales.

Adults over 21 have been able to legally purchase recreational marijuana from Nevada’s few dozen dispensaries since July 1, but an ongoing court battle and other complications have prevented retailers from being resupplied.

The Nevada Tax Commission now plans to vote on emergency regulations Thursday that could alleviate the imminent shortage by relaxing existing rules for distributing marijuana between grow sites and dispensaries.

When Nevadans voted in November to legalize recreational marijuana, wholesale alcohol distributors were guaranteed exclusive distribution rights for the first 18 months of retail weed sales. Only seven liquor distributors applied, however, and none so far have been licensed.

The Tax Commission previously proposed a rule change that would have allowed the state to issue licenses to distributors already authorized to transport medical marijuana, but the Independent Alcohol Distributors of Nevada sued the state and won, setting the stage for an appeals case currently before the state Supreme Court.

In the meantime, not a single liquor distributor has been authorized to transport recreational marijuana, the Reno Gazette-Journal reported Friday.

“We continue to work with the liquor wholesalers who have applied for distribution licenses, but most don’t yet meet the requirements that would allow us to license them,” Stephanie Klapstein, a spokesperson for the Nevada Tax Commission, told the Gazette-Journal.

“Based on reports of adult-use marijuana sales already far exceeding the industry’s expectations at the state’s 47 licensed retail marijuana stores, and the reality that many stores are running out of inventory, the Department must address the lack of distributors immediately,” she said. “Some establishments report the need for delivery within the next several days.”

The director of the Nevada Department of Taxation signed off last week on a set of emergency distribution rules to “maintain the flow of revenue related to the legal sale and regulation of marijuana.” Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval endorsed the proposal Friday, and regulators will vote Thursday whether to adopt emergency measures loosening existing distribution rules.

Nevada’s 40-plus pot shops shops generated over 40,000 retail transactions during the first weekend of recreational sales, according to the state. Preliminary figures suggest the dispensaries sold at least $3 million in marijuana products during the first few days of legal sales. Recreational marijuana taxes vary across the state but typically range between 33 and 38 percent.

Nevada is the fifth state in the nation to legalize retail marijuana sales, notwithstanding the federal government’s prohibition on pot. California, Massachusetts and Maine are slated to follow suit in 2018.

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