Pubdate: Mon, 19 Jun 2017
Source: Washington Post (DC)
Copyright: 2017 The Washington Post Company


CARSON CITY, Nev. -- The Latest on the legal battle of the launch of
Nevada's recreational pot sales

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

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

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

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 under way in Nevada where a judge may decide whether the
state's first sale of marijuana for recreational use can begin next

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.
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