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The Latest: Nevada passes rules to ensure pot won't run out

Posted July 13

— The Latest on Nevada's recreational marijuana regulations (all times local):

4:50 p.m.

Nevada marijuana regulators have approved emergency regulations to speed up licensing of pot distributors, a move they say is needed to keep retailers from running out of supply.

The Nevada Tax Commission adopted the rules after a three-hour hearing Thursday. They aim to ensure the retailers that started selling recreational pot July 1 don't run out of their diminishing stock amid overwhelming demand.

The move rewrites the rules used to enforce the state's pot law to make it clear that it's legal to license some retailers to transport pot from growers to storefronts. Based on the original rules, a judge had ruled that only alcohol wholesalers can distribute the drug over the next 18 months.

A lawyer for the alcohol wholesaler groups that won the court order told the tax panel that he's convinced the new regulation is illegal.

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2:50 p.m.

The lawyer for a group of Nevada alcohol wholesalers suing the state over marijuana distribution licenses says an emergency regulation state tax commissioners are considering to free up more licenses would be just as illegal as an earlier one struck down by a Carson City judge.

The Nevada Tax Commission is hearing testimony on the emergency proposal that would allow more flexibility in the licensing so as to meet overwhelming demand at recreational pot retailers who launched the state's first legal sales July 1.

The Independent Alcohol Distributors of Nevada won a court order in June upholding the exclusive rights of alcohol wholesalers to handle all pot distribution for 18 months.

The state is appealing to the Nevada Supreme Court and the tax panel is expected to approve emergency rules late Thursday that would allow non-alcohol entities to obtain pot distribution licenses.

Kevin Benson, the alcohol group's lawyer, stopped short of threatening another lawsuit. But he testified Thursday he's convinced the emergency regulation would be invalid.

He says any emergency that exists was created by state officials who want to push the alcohol industry out of the market.

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2:15 p.m.

The head of Nevada's Department of Taxation says the agency has approved licenses for two alcohol wholesalers in compliance with a court order to begin distributing recreational marijuana to retailers running low on supplies.

But she told the state Tax Commission Thursday it's too soon to tell if Crooked Wine of Reno and Rebel Wine of Las Vegas will be able to handle the demand for all 47 licensed retailers statewide.

Department Executive Director Deonne Contine urged the panel to approve an emergency regulation that would allow the state to license existing pot retailers to transport products from growers to stores if it turns out there aren't enough alcohol distributors to do the job.

A Carson City judge ruled last month that alcohol wholesalers have exclusive rights to distribute marijuana for the next 18 months.

The state is appealing to the Nevada Supreme Court, citing overwhelming demand since recreational sales began July 1.

The Tax Commission is expected to approve the emergency regulation late Thursday while the court battle continues.

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1:30 p.m.

Nevada's marijuana regulators have licensed the first recreational pot distributor in the state to help alleviate concerns pot retailers are running out of supplies.

Nevada Department of Taxation spokeswoman Stephanie Klapstein said Thursday a license has been granted for an alcohol wholesaler — Crooked Wine Co. — to distribute pot products in compliance with a court order.

The move comes as the state tax commission prepares to approve an emergency regulation to allow distribution licenses to be issued to some marijuana retailers in certain circumstances.

A Carson City judge ruled last month that alcohol wholesalers have exclusive rights to transport pot from growers to store fronts for the next 18 months.

The state is appealing to the Nevada Supreme Court, citing overwhelming demand since recreational sales began July 1.

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1 a.m.

Following an overwhelming demand for recreational marijuana, Nevada regulators are considering emergency rules that would expedite licensing for pot distributors.

Dozens of retailers started selling recreational marijuana on July 1 but a unique state law could quickly dry up their supplies and lead to empty shelves. The law dictates only alcohol wholesalers can transport pot from growers to store fronts for the next 18 months.

State tax officials say fewer than 10 alcohol wholesalers have applied for pot distribution licenses so far and as of last week none had met the qualifications.

The Nevada Tax Commission is poised to adopt a new regulation Thursday in Carson City to license some pot retailers to serve as their own middleman if there aren't enough alcohol distributors to do the job.

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