Judge: Only alcohol distributors can transport recreational marijuana to retailers

A judge in Carson City ruled Wednesday in favor of alcohol distributors making them the only ones capable of transporting recreational marijuana from the grower to the seller. The Nevada court ruling extends a temporary order preventing the state from issuing pot licenses to medical marijuana dispensaries so they can begin recreational sales by July 1.

On Monday, members of the alcohol industry and state marijuana regulators squared off in a Carson City courtroom over who could transport the marijuana from the growers to the stores where it's being sold.

Alcohol distributors said the state was trying to squeeze them out of the marijuana industry by creating an artificial shortage in the number of businesses applying.  However, the director of the Nevada Department of Taxation Deonne Contine says they were pushing to get early marijuana sales up and running on time because the state budget is balanced on retail pot taxes.

"We couldn't operate this business and knowing that my task force says we need to get this up and running by July 1, I needed to kind of have a backup plan," Contine said.

However, Carson City District Judge James Wilson said in a 11-page ruling Tuesday that the ballot measure voters approved in November dictates that licensed alcohol wholesalers have the exclusive rights to pot distribution licenses for 18 months. He says the regulation the Nevada Tax Commission adopted in May that could have opened distribution up to others was invalid, and he granted a preliminary injunction scrapping the license application deadline that passed May 31.

No word on whether or not the July 1 sale date will be affected by the judge's decision.


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