Nevada faces shortage of legal recreational marijuana, officials say

Posted at 6:19 PM, Jul 15, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-15 18:19:18-04

LAS VEGAS (KSNV/CNN) - Recreational marijuana supplies are running low in Nevada - shortly after it became legal on July 1 - over a distribution dispute.

With tax dollars on the line, the governor has issued a "statement of emergency."

The Nevada tax commission recently approved "emergency regulations" to analyze whether there are enough distributors to supply the state's 47 legal dispensaries.

That's because alcohol sellers want in on the business.

In the decades long marathon for legal marijuana, heartbreak hill might be the most unlikely of topics, getting the drug from where its grown to where its sold.

Two words are haunting the pot industry: "like alcohol."

When voters first voted for recreational pot in November, they voted to regulate marijuana like alcohol.

Supporters of the bill say that means legal, regulated sales for people over 21. But alcohol distributors say that meant something else entirely, that they, and they alone, should distribute the stuff.

And a judge agreed.

But alcohol distributors can't get licensed, dispensaries are running out of product, and the governor has issued an emergency as the state isn't collecting tax money.

The Department of Taxation, which is getting their case ready, is voting to have the state see if there are enough liquor distributors to handle the growing pot business.

That is such big business that alcohol distributors say they would rather see the drug stay illegal than see other people sell it.

Stuck in the middle are dispensaries trying to turn a profit and distributors that say they are being left out in the cold.

In addition to Nevada, retail sales for recreational marijuana are legal in Alaska, Oregon, Washington and Colorado.

Recreational marijuana is also legal in California, Massachusetts, Maine and the District of Columbia, but there is no legal market in those places yet.

Medical marijuana is legal in 29 states, but the drug remains illegal in the eyes of the federal government.

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