Last month we brought you news about an early start to adult use marijuana retail sales slated to begin on July 1st in Nevada. Under the plan, established medical marijuana dispensaries were to apply for licenses to sell cannabis to anyone over the age of 21.
Now it looks like those plans will be put on hold after a judge issued a temporary restraining order that prohibits the state’s Department of Taxation from enforcing an application deadline for dispensaries wishing to participate in the program. This comes after the Independent Alcohol Distributors of Nevada argued that the Nevada marijuana legalization measure gave liquor wholesalers exclusive rights to adult use marijuana distribution licenses for the first 18 months of 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 said in the ruling.
According to the Nevada tax department, they put out the word to liquor distributors to see if anyone was interested in the marijuana distribution licenses; they say not a single distributor even submitted a business plan until very recently. That’s why they opened up the application process, lest they not have anyone able to actually deliver the marijuana from growers when the time came.
To be fair, you can’t blame the liquor distributors for wanting exclusive rights for the 18 month span – that’s a pretty sweet gig with no competition. But why wait so long to express interest? It’s been 8 months since Question 2 passed in Nevada, that’s plenty of time to let authorities know you want to participate in the activity you claim that measure passing gave you the rights to.
For their part, dispensary owners say the exclusive distribution rights scheme will end up making the entire supply chain longer and more difficult than it needs to be. Companies that have growing and retail centers on the same property would have to use a liquor middleman to deliver cannabis from one room to another in the same building.
Treating cannabis like alcohol means to treat them similar in a legal sense. It doesn’t mean that the alcohol industry has to be literally involved in the legal marijuana industry. If that were the case, why not sell cannabis at liquor stores? Or staple dime bags to 6-packs of Bud Light?
The legal cannabis industry is already fighting an uphill battle in many ways; making things even more difficult for no reason makes no sense.