Nevada judge halts licensing for adult-use cannabis distribution

Recreational marijuana sales in Nevada may not begin next month after all.

A judge on Tuesday extended a temporary order that prevents the state from issuing distribution licenses to existing medical marijuana dispensaries so they can begin recreational sales July 1.

Carson City District Judge James Wilson wrote in an 11-page ruling that the ballot measure voters approved in November dictates that licensed alcohol wholesalers have exclusive rights to marijuana distribution licenses for 18 months.

That exclusivity was the crux of a lawsuit the wholesalers filed to stop the state from issuing the licenses.

The judge ruled that the regulation the Nevada Tax Commission adopted in May that could have opened distribution to others was invalid, and he granted a preliminary injunction scrapping the license application deadline that passed May 31.

A Nevada Department of Taxation spokeswoman said before Wilson’s ruling that regulators intend to license qualified liquor distributors. She cautioned, however, that it hasn’t been determined whether any of the five applicants from the alcohol industry are legally qualified to do the work.

The state’s tax commission approved an “early start” for Nevada’s adult-use program for operating MMJ businesses interested in selling rec cannabis. The “early start” program is scheduled to run July 1 until January, when the commission is expected to finalize regulations for a full recreational industry.

– Associated Press