CARSON CITY, Nev. — The Latest on the legal battle of the launch of Nevada’s recreational pot sales (all times local):
A Nevada judge has put off for at least another day a decision on whether to clear the way for medical marijuana dispensaries to begin selling pot for recreational use July 1.
Carson City District Judge James Wilson said he expected to decide after a daylong hearing Monday whether to lift a temporary order prohibiting the state from issuing distribution licenses necessary to launch the sales within two weeks.
But he said after more than six hours of testimony that wrapped up just before 5 p.m. that he now hopes to issue that ruling on Tuesday.
A group of Nevada liquor wholesalers filed a lawsuit last month claiming they’re illegally being locked out of the pot distribution business.
The marijuana initiative voters approved in November dictates that only existing alcohol distributors transport pot from growers to retail stores.
State regulators argue they’re allowed to license existing pot dispensaries for distribution if there aren’t enough liquor wholesalers to meet the new recreational demand.
The deputy director of Nevada’s Department of Taxation says state regulators still intend to have the necessary licenses in place July 1 to start selling marijuana for recreational use despite an ongoing lawsuit over the regulations.
Anna Thornley testified in Carson City District Court on Monday that the state has planned since February to have the “early start” program up and running by July to start bringing in tax revenue before a permanent system must be adopted on Jan. 1, 2018.
Thornley says none of the 90 applications received for distribution licenses have been approved so far. Five of those are from liquor wholesalers and the other 85 are from existing medical marijuana dispensaries.
Thornley says some of the applications are incomplete and have been returned to the applicants to provide additional information. But she told Judge James Wilson, “It’s the department’s intention to issue licenses by July 1.”
The hearing is expected to last all day.
A Nevada liquor wholesaler who wants to start distributing marijuana next month says the licensing plan the state set up for recreational pot is the most complicated he has experienced in his 45 years in business.
Capitol Beverage Owner Curt Brown took the witness stand Monday as a judge hears testimony on whether some existing medical pot dispensaries can serve as middleman by delivering the drug from growers to retailers.
Part of the legal dispute centers on the fact the federal government still prohibits possession of marijuana.
State regulators say that’s made most alcohol distributors leery of entering into the pot business because they fear doing so could jeopardize their federal liquor licenses.
Brown is among those who set up new businesses with a different corporate name to apply for liquor licenses to protect his liquor business if federal officials object to him becoming a marijuana distributor.
He says it’s a standard practice and shouldn’t keep them out of the pot business.
Nevada alcohol distributors are challenging the state’s claim that their industry cannot handle exclusive distribution of recreational marijuana from growers to retailers.
One witness testifying Monday at a court hearing is an alcohol wholesaler who worked previously as a tour production manager for rock bands including The Allman Brothers and INXS (“in excess”).
Red Rock Wines owner Allan Nassau says marijuana is just another product.
He says his company distributes to about 300 restaurants in the Las Vegas area and would have no problem serving more than 100 pot retailers in the state.
Nassau compared moving marijuana shipments to moving tons of stage equipment around the country for musicians.
A hearing is underway in Nevada where a judge may decide whether the state’s first sale of marijuana for recreational use can begin next month.
Carson City District Judge James Wilson is considering whether Nevada’s liquor industry should be guaranteed part of the marijuana sales business before tourists and residents can start buying it as of July 1.
He has set aside all day Monday for lawyers for the alcohol distributors, marijuana retailers and state Department of Taxation to make their case.
They are arguing over whether the state has the authority to issue marijuana distribution licenses to anyone besides existing alcohol wholesalers to serve as the middleman between pot cultivators and recreational retail stores.
The judge granted a restraining order last month temporarily blocking all licensing. It’s not clear how soon he will rule.
Nevada regulators are working against a fast-approaching deadline to launch recreational marijuana sales July 1.
The startup could hinge on a court decision on whether the liquor industry should be guaranteed part of the business before tourists and residents can start buying it.
Lawyers for the alcohol distributors, marijuana retailers and the state go before a judge Monday.
They’re arguing over whether the state can issue marijuana distribution licenses to anyone besides alcohol distributors.
The state says it has the power to temporarily license some existing medical marijuana cultivators and retailers to serve as their own middlemen.
The liquor lobby says the law gives it the first shot at licenses, the only legal pot state with that arrangement.
Carson City District Judge James Wilson has blocked all licensing until the matter is resolved.