License dispute could delay Nevada recreational pot sales

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The law passed by voters past year gives alcohol distributors a monopoly on sales for the first 18 months, unless there is not enough interest. The judge's ruling extends the May 31st deadline for applications and also mandates that any licenses issued must be to "a person holding a wholesale [alcohol] dealer license..."

A judge in Carson City on Tuesday evening sided with the alcohol distributors and barred Nevada's Department of Taxation from enforcing a May 31 deadline to apply for marijuana distribution licenses.

After state lawmakers expressed interest in allowing early retail marijuana sales at medical marijuana dispensaries, which had been successful in OR after voters approved a similar measure in 2014, state regulators pushed for an early start to retail sales in Nevada.

The order comes after the Independent Alcohol Distributors of Nevada filed a complaint, arguing the ballot initiative that legalized recreational marijuana actually states that marijuana distribution licenses can only go to licensed liquor wholesalers for the first 18 months of sale.

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About three and a half weeks ago, tax commissioners adopted the new version of the regulations that didn't include language about a shortage.

Sam McMullen, the attorney representing the wholesalers, said Wednesday it's very likely that the order will delay expected July 1 start for recreational marijuana sales. A judge has issued a restraining order against the state on behalf of alcohol distributors in the state, who say they are being cut out of the marijuana business.

"We just want our rightful place".

The Department of Taxation spokeswoman Stephanie Klapstein said, "The Department is reviewing the temporary restraining order with legal counsel, and we intend to defend our regulations to the fullest extent of the law". "In March, the department decided that it would open the applications for distribution licenses beyond alcohol distributors".

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