Nevada Department of Taxation Executive Director Deonne Contine announced at the hearing in Carson City that the agency has approved licenses for two alcohol wholesalers in compliance with a court order to begin distributing recreational pot to retailers.
But few alcohol distributors applied, and through Tuesday, none had been approved.
Medical use of marijuana is permitted in 25 states, including Nevada where it has been legal since 2001.
Blackbird Logistics has been a medical marijuana distributor since 2015, but recently partnered with an alcohol distributor to allow them to distribute cannabis on the retail market, making them officially the first licensed cannabis distributor on the legal Nevada market. Nevada is anxious that it will have a negative impact on the millions of dollars of projected tax revenue that will be used towards school's and the state's reserve funds.
But representatives of several of the 47 retailers now licensed to sell recreationally testified before the tax panel Thursday their shelves are almost empty because there's no distribution mechanism that allows them to restock. Outside the Blüm dispensary in Reno, the store has had to add a row of about 20 folding chairs on the sidewalk, with a cooler of water because people have been waiting an hour or more in 100-degree weather.
"The transportation really bottles up at the neck and a lot of places are struggling to stay open, I've heard of a lot of places closing because they don't have any product at all", Store Manager at Pisos, David Poolsawat said. "It's more expensive, but then you can get exactly what you want and you don't have to deal with a street dealer". Some felt a little exposed waiting outside for something that wasn't legal just days ago. She said one of the new licensees is "pretty stressed out about what he's going to be asked to do".
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Every 1o minutes or so a security guard comes out to get the next eight patrons. Inside, a dozen or so people wait to be called into the retail space - a long, backlit counter that resembles a jewelry display case, but for its variety of cannabis products.
Pot shops have had to largely rely on what they have already had in stock. Marijuana sales and possession still remain federal crimes, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who was in Las Vegas this week, is an opponent of recreational use. "This is such an important time in the state of Nevada's existence".
A judge granted a temporary injunction, which the state is appealing to the Nevada Supreme Court, after the Independent Alcohol Distributors of Nevada persuaded him the state had arbitrarily concluded there was an insufficient number of liquor wholesalers to meet the demand.
What's the general fund money used for again? This created a lawsuit that almost delayed the opening of the first retail shops, as alcohol wholesalers fought medical marijuana distributors for the right to produce and distribute cannabis for Nevada's legal market.
"Nevada stands alone with this six-month rush", said Jim Hartman, an attorney and president of Nevadans for Responsible Drug Policy.