Nevada’s concept of using its medical marijuana market to temporarily service the recreational sector is scheduled to launch sometime within the next month.
According to a report from the Las Vegas Sun, there are more than 140 applicants vying to become the first to sell weed in manner similar to beer.
The goal of the “early sales” initiative was to give adults 21 and older the freedom to walk into a state licensed dispensary and purchase up to an ounce of weed without flashing a medical marijuana card. Meanwhile, it would give state officials some breathing room while putting together the regulations for the full-scale market set to launch next year.
In the development phase, lawmakers pressed the importance of getting recreational pot sales up and running in enough time to beat the summertime tourism rush. After all, Las Vegas alone is predicted to see as many as 43 million visitors this year.
But unfortunately, there is a distinct possibility the whole idea of early sales is about to go down in flames courtesy of the alcohol industry.
When voters approved recreational marijuana last November, they gave the state’s alcohol distributors the first right of refusal on recreational pot sales for the first year and a half.
While there haven’t been booze companies to come forward with an interest in getting involved with legal marijuana, a small group of wholesalers is stirring up trouble.
On Tuesday, a district court judge issued a temporary restraining order that prevents the state from issuing recreational marijuana licenses until it can be determined whether the Independent Alcohol Distributors of Nevada is getting ripped off by early sales.
“The statute clearly gives a priority and exclusive license to alcohol distributors, in order to promote the goal of regulating marijuana similar to alcohol,” the judge ruled.
Strangely, no one is actually preventing the alcohol industry from applying for licenses to sell weed. The problem is 13 booze distributors do not want medical marijuana businesses involved for 18 months—even though they already have the infrastructure in place to do the job.
For now, no one is certain how the judge’s order will affect the recreational marijuana application process.
“We just want our rightful place. We don’t want to slow this down inordinately,” Sam McMullen, the attorney representing the wholesalers, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
McMullen says if the state agrees to give alcohol distributors exclusive rights, Nevada will easily meet the July 1 start date for legal pot sales. If not, he stresses it’s going to be “a long process.”
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