Running low

If you suspected that the long lines of people waiting outside the marijuana dispensaries during the first couple of weeks of legalization meant that Nevada dispensaries might be in danger of running of out of product, then you were right.

According to the Nevada Dispensary Association, Nevada dispensaries brought in about $3 million in sales revenue and $500,000 in tax revenue within the first four days of legal recreational sales.

This is great news, and something that cannabis advocates had been predicting would happen for years. We told you so—people like marijuana. And those are numbers that would make even Jeff Sessions say, “Hey, maybe I should go into the cannabis business …”

But the dispensaries are starting to run low on product—particularly edibles and other items that are tougher to find on the street. The problem isn’t at the dispensaries—or with the growers and manufacturers. The problem is that there aren’t enough distributors to move the product from manufacturers to dispensaries.

Late last week, after less than a full week of legal cannabis sales, Gov. Brian Sandoval endorsed the Nevada Department of Taxation’s statement of emergency, allowing the Nevada Tax Commission, which oversees the department, to vote on a regulation that would make it easier to apply for distribution licenses.

That vote is scheduled for July 13, the day this issue hits the stands.

Currently, for a limited period, in accordance with the ballot initiative legalizing recreational cannabis that was approved by state voters last November, marijuana distribution licenses are only given to businesses with pre-existing alcohol distribution licenses. This limitation has already been contentious and the subject of a legal battle. When the Department of Taxation said that limiting the licenses to those with liquor licenses would be inadequate for the new industry’s needs, a group of alcohol distributors balked and sued. In late June, a district court judge in Carson City imposed an injunction that prohibits the department from making a sufficiency determination.

However, in light of the booming business at Nevada shops, the new emergency regulation, which has been endorsed by the governor, would allow others—shockingly, even folks who aren’t already liquor distributors—to apply for licenses.

We strongly urge the Nevada Tax Commission to approve this emergency regulation. Cannabis is already proving to be a beneficial—not to mention very enjoyable—source of income for the state. Some of the attempts to block the free flow of product have seemed like intentional efforts to sabotage the industry—either by conservatives who don’t approve of it or by purveyors of a rival intoxicant who think their businesses might suffer.

It’s ridiculous to claim that only alcohol distributors are qualified to distribute cannabis. It’s a bit like telling a professional baseball prospect that he’s supposed to already be a member of an NFL team.