Judge: Nevada can expand pool for recreational cannabis distribution

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A judge cleared the way for Nevada to allow more businesses to transport cannabis from growers to stores in an effort to keep up with overwhelming demand since recreational marijuana sales began last month.

Carson City District Judge James Russell on Thursday lifted an order blocking regulators from issuing cannabis distribution licenses to anyone other than alcohol wholesalers.

Nevada’s voter-approved law is unique among legal marijuana states in granting liquor wholesalers exclusive rights to distribute marijuana unless they can’t keep up with demand.

Russell said after an hourlong hearing there’s overwhelming evidence alcohol wholesalers don’t have the capability to meet the needs of dozens of recreational pot dispensaries from Las Vegas to Reno.

To launch sales July 1, the state adopted emergency rules to enable marijuana shops to serve as their own middlemen in some circumstances.

The judge told a lawyer for alcohol distributors that sued over the matter that they’re free to appeal to regulators, adding “it’s not up to this court to supersede the authority of a state agency.”

The turf battle between the alcohol industry and the new retail marijuana business has been in and out of court for the last six weeks as state regulators complained that a delivery bottleneck was undermining an otherwise robust industry and the state revenue that comes with it.

Legal adult-use marijuana sales started with a bang July 1. Since then, according to a report by the Nevada Department of Taxation claims, rec cannabis sales have dropped as much as 30%.

– Associated Press