Nevada residents may have to wait a little longer than previously expected to buy recreational marijuana. The state legalized the personal use of marijuana for adults over the age of 21 last November but residents cannot legally purchase the plant until the infrastructure of the industry has been set up including having the rules and regulations decided upon and the licenses distributed. Unfortunately this is where the hurdle has come into things. The liquor industry filed an injunction against the Nevada Department of Taxation requesting that no distribution licenses be given to anyone other than alcohol distributors.
Snoozing But Possibly Not Losing
The original ballot Question 2 that residents voted on in order to legalize the plant stated that alcohol distributors would get exclusive rights to distribute the marijuana to retailers for the first 18 months. In March, the Nevada Department of Taxation claimed that there were not enough alcohol distributors applying for licenses and therefore licenses could be given to marijuana distributors. The deadline for applications was May 31st at which point the department would be able to determine which licenses got processed.
The Judicial Ruling Behind the Delay
The idea would be for marijuana to temporarily be available to sell by July 1, 2017. The temporary industry would have the ability to function with authorities testing regulations and updating any necessary aspects so that it could officially become permanent by January 2018. In the meantime, the state could begin to collect the estimated millions in tax revenue it will receive from the industry. These plans however have been derailed as First District Judicial Judge James Wilson granted an injunction to the liquor distributors, writing in his 11 page ruling, “The plaintiff’s members will very likely be shut out of the marijuana distribution business entirely if the Department issues distribution license to non-alcohol distributors.” This is the main concern being presented by alcohol distributors. There is a lot of fear about being locked out of the industry if they don’t come in from the very start.
Expectations of Postponement
So far, only 5 of 93 applicants for the distribution license have been alcohol distributors. With the little amount of interest being shown, the July 1st launch date is expected to be postponed. Those within the industry are anxious about creating any delays on the July 1st deadline, expressing their belief that it will be a “disaster” if sales don’t begin on the set date. Representatives are prepared to “hammer out a deal” according to Nevada State Senator Tick Segerblom who sponsored the bill and supported various bills to help get the industry up and running.
If all is able to be organized in time, Nevada will be the first of the 4 states who legalized marijuana last year to begin selling the plant. While it remains illegal on a federal level, several bills exist that are working towards legalizing the plant on a federal level or protecting state rights to run a marijuana industry as it sees fit. Nevada is 1 of 8 states with legalized recreational marijuana including California, Maine, Massachusetts, Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington.