Nevada Legal Marijuana Shortage Prompts 'Statement Of Emergency'

Emmett Rice
July 12, 2017

Nevada is already in the midst of a full blown marijuana "state of emergency", as the state's fledgling recreational market struggles to keep legal pot from flying off the shelves. The state's tax commission plans to vote on the emergency measure Thursday. Products were sold so rapidly that some cultivators literally ran out of plants and had to wait for another harvest to deliver weed items to dispensaries.

Alcohol wholesalers have the exclusive rights to move marijuana from growers to retailers in Nevada, as part of a temporary court order that was extended by a Carson City district judge in June.

According to the Nevada Department of Taxation, the state's 47 retail marijuana stores did "well over" 40,000 transactions, with sales sometimes doubling dispensary owners' projections.

Dispensaries in the state celebrated the change by opening their stores at midnight the day the sales became legal, expecting large crowds in the stores and even setting off fireworks.

Image Customers buy cannabis products at Essence Vegas Cannabis Dispensary

"Everything we know shows that millennials are very pro-marijuana, and that's the new marketing push", Nevada state Sen.

One of the major reforms that the emergency regulation could produce is empowering the taxation department to make a determination of sufficiency - i.e. how many distributors the industry needs.

Department of Taxation spokeswoman Stephanie Klapstein said a collapsed marijuana market could jeopardize the collection of tax revenue that the Silver State spends on public education.

"The next step for the Department of Taxation is to enact permanent regulations on the same topic", Mari N. St. Martin, communications director for Sandoval, wrote to NBC News in an email. If sales of legal marijuana, which are taxed at 2% whether wholesale or retail, come to a standstill, then the state will face a significant fiscal imbalance. Klapstein warned that the lack of supply could lead to job losses at the dispensaries and lost money for the state's schools, which benefit from a 15% tax on marijuana cultivation. Finally, the marijuana industry has invested hundreds of millions of dollars to build facilities across the state. "They have hired and trained thousands of additional employees to meet the demands of the market". Long lines of customers have formed at dispensaries that until last week had been authorized to sell only medical marijuana.

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