Although the alcohol industry has done its best to sandbag the progress of recreational marijuana sales in Nevada, a situation that has left pot supplies depleted and tax revenues in the proverbial crapper, it appears the state can finally move ahead with new distribution channels and put the market back on track - at least for the time being.
According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, on Thursday, a district judge gave Nevada officials the green light to proceed with plans to issue recreational marijuana distribution licenses to businesses other than the state’s liquor wholesalers. The ruling, handed down by Carson City District Judge James Russell, lifted a temporary injunction that gave the state liquor distributors exclusive rights on the transport of recreational reefer to retail dispensaries.
To fight the shift, the Independent Alcohol Distributors of Nevada went after a temporary restraining order against the Nevada Tax Department, prohibiting additional distribution licenses from being doled out. But state officials persisted, establishing without a doubt that the alcohol trade could not adequately handle all of the state’s pot distribution.
The Tax Department was successful.
After an hour of testimony, Judge Russell said there was overwhelming evidence that the liquor distributors alone do not have the ability to properly stock the shelves of Nevada dispensaries.
Still, the state’s liquor industry won’t be leaving the legal weed industry without a fight, with plans already set to appeal Judge Russell’s ruling.
“We have already requested a stay from the department, and will be sending our notice of appeal to the Commission today as well,” said Attorney Kevin Benson, who is representing the alcohol distributors in this case. “We look forward to the opportunity for a full and fair hearing before the Commission.”
The whole legal debacle stems from the language of the 2016 ballot measure that legalized marijuana for recreational use in Nevada. The initiative technically gives the local alcohol wholesalers exclusive rights to the distribution of recreational weed for the first year and a half.
However, the law did not account for the state’s “early sales” program, not to mention the alcohol trade’s lack of interest. To date, only seven of the state’s 61 liquor distributors have expressed any interest in trucking loads of legal weed from cultivators to dispensaries, with a vast majority of Nevada’s booze pushers wanting nothing to do with weed.
Nevada officials have complained the lengthy legal battle has created hardships for the cannabis trade, sabotaging the state’s ability to generate substantial tax revenues.