Nevada has Declared a Weed State of Emergency

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Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval declared a weed state of emergency Friday: The state’s pot dispensaries are running out of product.

Nevada began the legal sale of recreational pot on July 1 amid major questions over whether there would be enough supply to meet consumer demand. The initiative authorizing the sales, passed in November, gave liquor distributors exclusive rights to transport product to dispensaries for the first 18 months of business.

But the licensing process has been slow and fraught with legal challenges. Seven liquor distributors have applied for licenses so far, but none have been approved to resupply the state’s recreational dispensaries.

Sandoval endorsed a statement of emergency from Nevada’s Department of Taxation proposing emergency regulation to expand who can get a license.

Dispensary owners stocked up in advance to prepare for the supply shortage, but that still wasn’t enough to meet booming demand over the Fourth of July opening weekend.

According to the Nevada Department of Taxation, the state’s 47 retail marijuana stores did “well over” 40,000 transactions, with sales sometimes doubling dispensary owners’ projections. Riana Durrett, executive director of the Nevada Dispensary Association, estimated industrywide sales of around $3 million during the first four days of business.

Some dispensaries will need to resupply in a matter of days, and others risk having to fire new hires or go out of business altogether.

“Unless the issue with distributor licensing is resolved quickly, the inability to deliver product to the retail stores will result in many of these employees losing their jobs and will cause this nascent industry to grind to a halt,” Sandoval said in a statement.

Earlier this year, the Department of Taxation tried opening distribution to other types of businesses when it saw insufficient interest and readiness from the liquor industry, only to be stopped in court in May, when they sued to hang onto their first dibs.

The Department of Taxation will consider adopting the governor’s proposed rules July 13.

Cover: A customer pays for cannabis products at Essence Vegas Cannabis Dispensary after the start of recreational marijuana sales began on July 1, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

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