Nevada residents and tourists hoping to partake in some of the state’s newly legalized recreational cannabis might be out of luck — dispensaries have been running low on supply after crushing business during the first week of legal sales.
“The line is out the door and the line just doesn’t stop,” opined Al Fasano of ReLeaf, a medical dispensary in Las Vegas, to CNN Money, shortly after Nevada gave the green light for green. “People are there when we open [at 10 a.m.] and they’re there when we close [at midnight].”
At issue — and unsurprisingly, given the notorious inefficiencies of government — are regulations governing the transport of weed from cultivators to stores, as only the state’s alcohol distributors have permission to ship the plant.
But none have yet procured licensing from Nevada to do so.
“I think they’d like to do it; they’re just not ready,” remarked Andrew Jolley, CEO of The Source, a company with dispensaries in Las Vegas and Henderson. “We hope we have sufficient supply to last a few days or weeks until the distributors are able to come online to supply us.”
CNN Money reported, “State regulators decided that the transportation of recreational marijuana should fall exclusively to liquor distributors for the first 18 months of legal sales.
“But when the state reached out to the liquor distributors about the new enterprise, only a few replied, and they said they didn’t want to do it, according to the Nevada Department of Taxation.
When liquor distributors balked at the opportunity, the state loosened weed transportation strictures so others could apply — but the Independent Alcohol Distributors of Nevada scoffed, sued, and won exclusivity on transport, via a ruling by a judge in Carson City.
However, the liquor industry still hasn’t capitalized on its golden egg-laying hen.
Nevada, nonetheless, is reaping the lucrative benefits of legal weed — between last Saturday and Tuesday, the state profited an estimated $1 million from taxation of the product, with dispensaries pulling in around $3 million.
To stave off an inevitable supply void, Nevada has temporarily allowed medical dispensaries to re-categorize some medical product as recreational — and then restock the shelves with additional medicinal product.
“It is important to emphasize that nothing in the order prohibits the marijuana industry from starting — the state can simply license the alcohol distributors and let them get to work,” attorney Kevin Benson, with the alcohol distribution industry, told CNN Money. “That is, of course, what we would like to see happen.”
Prior to legalization for recreational use, Nevadans could only purchase cannabis legally for medical use — but long lines and a constant flow of traffic indicate the plant’s intense popularity for reasons other than treating cancers, PTSD, prescription and illicit opioid abuse, and more.
ReLeaf, alone, experienced an astronomical uptick in sales during the first weekend of recreational sales, with upwards of 1,000 customers each day — compared to between 100 and 150, who had purchased cannabis for medical reasons prior to the new law.
Kinks should be expected in the nascent stages of the implementation of any new legislation, but the categorical popularity of recreational weed — as evinced in Colorado, Washington, Oregon, and Alaska, the only other states where recreational use is legal — apparently did not prepare regulators holding red tape for this veritable run on the market.
“The business owners in this industry have invested hundreds of millions of dollars to build facilities across the state,” asserted Nevada Department of Taxation spokeswoman, Stephanie Klapstein, in an email to USA Today. “They have hired and trained thousands of additional employees to meet the demands of the market. Unless the issue with distributor licensing is resolved quickly, the inability to deliver product to retail stores will result in many of these people losing their jobs and will bring this nascent market to a grinding halt. A halt in this market will lead to a hole in the state’s school budget.”
As government is wont, everything is tied to everything else; and, that legal weed is tied to education could be quite the roadblock, if Nevada fails to expedite solutions to its rapidly dwindling supply.
“Revenue collected from the 15% cultivation tax goes toward schools, while the 10% sales tax revenue goes toward the state’s rainy day fund, which can be used for any number of expenditures,” USA Today reports.
While it may go without saying for many of us ambivalent toward anything State controlled, perhaps Nevada — and its massive tourism industry now including pot vacationers — would be wiser to backtrack on untenable restrictions surrounding the sale of legal weed.
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Contributed by Claire Bernish of The Daily Sheeple.