Nevada again expands field for recreational marijuana distribution

Nevada regulators plan to reopen the state’s recreational marijuana distribution system to businesses other than alcohol wholesalers after rejecting an appeal by a liquor group that claims it has exclusive rights to transport marijuana from cultivators to retail stores.

The state Tax Commission voted unanimously Tuesday to uphold a previous decision by the Tax Department to expand the licensing beyond alcohol distributors because they’ve been unable to keep up with overwhelming demand.

The distribution turf battle has been tied up in district court and administrative appeals since before legal recreational sales began July 1.

And it might not be over yet.

Kevin Benson, a lawyer for the Independent Alcohol Distributors of Nevada, said after a five-hour hearing before the commission his group hasn’t decided whether to file another lawsuit challenging the state’s decision.

A Tax Department spokeswoman said the agency intends to start issuing formal licenses to non-alcohol distributors but isn’t sure when that might happen.

Nevada’s voter-approved law is unique among states with legal cannabis in providing liquor wholesalers exclusive rights to transport marijuana for 18 months unless they could not keep up with demand.

To launch Nevada’s adult-use sales July 1, regulators adopted emergency rules to allow some rec retailers to serve as their own middlemen in certain circumstances.

The state’s tax director has complained that a delivery bottleneck is hurting sales and sending buyers back to the black market.

– Associated Press