Nevada alcohol distributors were granted the right to have exclusive rights for transporting Nevada’s marijuana supply just before the state rules were enacted. The problem is that none of them are licensed yet and cannot legally transport cannabis and dispensary stores are running short of supply.
The new marijuana law, implemented on Saturday, contains a requirement that only Nevada’s alcohol distributors can legally transport the product from cultivators to stores, known as dispensaries.
The problem is, none of the liquor companies have been licensed by the state to do it.
“I think they’d like to do it; they’re just not ready,” said Andrew Jolley, CEO of The Source, a company with dispensaries in Las Vegas and its suburb Henderson. “We hope we have sufficient supply to last a few days or weeks until the distributors are able to come online to supply us.”
That’s the big “if.” Since sale of recreational marijuana became legal to people aged 21 and older, business has been brisk. Long lines of customers have formed at dispensaries that until last week had been authorized to sell only medical marijuana.
ReLeaf, a medical dispensary in Las Vegas that opened in 2015, says it served about 1,000 customers each day this weekend. Most of them were tourists from out of state, according to COO Al Fasano. He said that’s seven or eight times the usual business of 100 to 150 medical buyers per day.
“The line is out the door and the line just doesn’t stop,” he said. “People are there when we open [at 10 a.m.] and they’re there when we close [at midnight].”
The conflict over distribution highlights the regulatory and logistical challenges states can face when introducing legal marijuana businesses.
Nevada residents voted in November 2016 to legalize recreational marijuana sales, and lawmakers and regulators spent the next few months crafting the rules of how and where this could happen and how the industry would be taxed.
State regulators decided that the transportation of recreational marijuana should fall exclusively to liquor distributors for the first 18 months of legal sales.
But when the state reached out to the liquor distributors about the new enterprise, only a few replied, and they said they didn’t want to do it, according to the Nevada Department of Taxation.
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