CARSON CITY, Nev. – The Latest on the legal battle over the licensing of marijuana businesses necessary for existing medical dispensaries to begin selling pot for recreational use on July 1 (all times local, PDT):
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Nevada's marijuana regulators remain determined to launch the state's first sales of recreational pot at existing medical dispensaries on July 1. But they acknowledge they aren't sure that will happen after a judge extended a temporary order Tuesday preventing the state from issuing distribution licenses to existing marijuana businesses.
Nevada Department of Taxation Department spokeswoman Stephanie Klapstein said that under the judge's order, those licenses can only go to liquor wholesale dealers, and they currently don't have any that have proven they are legally qualified.
Klapstein says they are working with the five liquor industry applicants who submitted incomplete applications to obtain additional information that might make it possible to certify them. She said the department is "committed to ensuring that the vote of the people to provide for the legal purchase of marijuana from a strictly regulated market will proceed on July 1."
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Recreational sales of marijuana in Nevada may not begin next month after all.
A judge has extended a temporary order that prevents the state from issuing distribution licenses to existing medical marijuana dispensaries so they can begin recreational sales July 1.
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.
It's not clear if recreational sales still might begin next month.
Nevada's marijuana regulators are developing backup plans in case a judge refuses to lift a court order blocking the licensing of distributors necessary to launch the state's first recreational pot sales July 1.
Carson City District Judge James Wilson intends to decide late Tuesday whether the state can license existing medical dispensaries to transport recreational pot from growers to retailers.
He temporarily halted all licensing after a group of alcohol wholesalers filed a lawsuit claiming they have exclusive rights to pot distribution licenses.
Nevada Department of Taxation spokeswoman Stephanie Klapstein said Tuesday if Wilson lifts that order, officials are ready to license existing dispensaries.
If not, they intend to license qualified liquor distributors. She cautions, however, they have yet to determine whether any of the five applicants from the alcohol industry are legally qualified to do the work.
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A Nevada judge says he expects to decide Tuesday whether the state can move forward with plans for medical marijuana dispensaries to begin selling pot for recreational use for the first time on July 1.
Lawyers for the liquor industry and the Nevada Department of Taxation argued at a daylong hearing Monday whether the state has the authority to issue marijuana distribution licenses necessary to launch the sales to anyone besides alcohol distributors.
Carson City District Judge James Wilson said he had hoped to issue a decision following the more than six hours of testimony but now plans to rule Tuesday.
It's been legal for adults to possess up to an ounce of marijuana in Nevada and consume it in private residences since the beginning of this year, but currently only medical dispensaries can sell it and only to people with medical cards.
The state maintains it has the power to temporarily license some existing medical marijuana cultivators and retailers to serve as their own recreational middlemen. It wants to get a head-start on collecting millions of dollars in tax revenue devoted to education before permanent rules are required by Jan. 1, 2018.
The liquor lobby sued, saying the state has failed to give it the first shot at distribution licenses as called for in the ballot measure approved by voters in November, the only legal pot state with that arrangement.
Wilson has blocked all licensing until the matter is resolved. He refused the state's request last week to dismiss the lawsuit, a move that could jeopardize the July 1 startup.