State takes steps to solve dispensaries' marijuana shortage


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.

So far, fewer than 10 alcohol wholesalers have applied for pot distribution licenses and as of last week none had met the qualifications, the Nevada Department of Taxation said.

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

The state of Nevada took steps this week to solve dispensaries' marijuana shortage. It will reopen applications and allow dispensaries previously operating in the medical marijuana program to vie for a spot in the recreational market.

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.

Nevada's cannabis crisis may have been least for the time-being.

The problem: All cannabis sold at recreational dispensaries in Nevada must be shipped there by a licensed distributor, and according to the language in Nevada's successful legalization ballot measure, the only qualified companies happened to be liquor wholesalers. Emergency regulations that would broaden "the pool of potential distributors" have been proposed by the state's Department of Taxation in the meantime. With legal cannabis in high demand on the tourist circuit, retailers ran out of cannabis so quickly that Governor Brian Sandoval agreed to sign an emergency regulation to expand distribution licenses.

More news: OECD's Government at a Glance report

Riana Durrett, executive director of the Nevada Dispensary Assn., a nonprofit that advocates on behalf of retail pot shops, testified at the hearing that the situation was dire and told stories of stores running low on edibles and popular strains of marijuana. "Without a resolution to this, sales can't go forward and establishments will have to let employees go".

On July 1, Nevada officially joined four other states - Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington - in allowing its residents to legally enjoy the use of the drug.

So, anxious that potential tax revenue could be at risk, the Nevada Department of Taxation declared a state of emergency, proposing regulations that would enable the expansion of distribution beyond the liquor industry.

As of Thursday, of the almost 70 liquor wholesalers in the state, seven had applied for transportation licences.

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. She said the regulation would allow the department to determine if there was an appetite outside the liquor wholesalers to become distributors.

Stuck in the middle are dispensaries trying to turn a profit and distributors that say they are being left out in the cold.

This little ditty makes the pending empty shelves a real issue to interested parties even beyond the average weed consumer.