Nevada sold out of legal marijuana so quickly, the governor wants to declare a 'state of emergency'


marijuana recreational dispensary las vegas nevada

John Locher/AP

People buy products at the Essence Vegas Cannabis Dispensary, on Saturday, July 1. Nevada dispensaries were legally allowed to sell recreational marijuana starting at 12:01 a.m. on Saturday.

Less than two weeks after sales of recreational marijuana kicked off in Nevada, stores are running out of pot to sell, according to the state Department of Taxation.


On July 7, Governor Brian Sandoval endorsed the department's call for a "statement of emergency," which would allow more dispensaries to become licensed distributors, the Reno Gazette-Journal reported.

Nearly 50 dispensaries in the Las Vegas area have licenses to sell marijuana for recreational use. Those sales got underway on July 1.

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But in a legal snafu, those same retailers do not have the authority to restock their inventory.

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. The rule aims to "promote the goal of regulating marijuana similar to alcohol" - and protect liquor stores from losing business as the demand for recreational marijuana rises.


Nevada is the only state with legalized marijuana that has such an arrangement.

As of Friday, the taxation department issued zero distribution licenses to alcohol wholesalers, because of incomplete applications and zoning issues, the Reno Gazette-Journal reported.

Dispensaries started selling the marijuana they had in stock to recreational users on July 1. Several establishments told state officials they expect to run out in the coming days.

marijuana recreational dispensary las vegas nevada

Ethan Miller/Getty

A customer pays for marijuana products at Essence Vegas Cannabis Dispensary after the start of recreational marijuana sales began on July 1.

A "statement of emergency" - which the taxation department said received the governor's endorsement on July 7 - could bring relief. The regulation would allow the department to issue distribution licenses to a larger pool of applicants, including those outside the alcohol business. The Nevada Tax Commission is expected to vote on the regulation on Thursday.


Stephanie Klapstein, a spokesperson for the state Department of Taxation, told the Reno Gazette-Journal that a collapsed marijuana market has far-reaching consequences. A 15% tax on cultivation of marijuana generates revenue for the state, which it spends on public education.

"A halt in this market will lead to a hole in the state's school budget," Klapstein said.

Residents and tourists who are 21 and over can buy up to an ounce of marijuana (or one-eighth of an ounce of edibles or concentrates) - but only while supplies last.

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