The ballot initiative passed in Nevada in the election last November legalized marijuana for adult use and provided a general idea of how it should be regulated – including giving liquor wholesalers the first opportunity to snag up licenses for marijuana distribution. This would allow wholesalers of liquor to double as wholesalers of cannabis, acting as a sort of middleman between the cultivation facilities and the processors and dispensaries. As it turns out, for the most part, liquor wholesalers have shown very little interest in participating in the new cannabis industry.
Since the state is hoping to have legal cannabis on sale by July 1st through medical marijuana dispensaries, they need these distributors to be licensed and ready to go before then – so starting in May or June, should no other applications be received, the state will start accepting applications from the medical marijuana businesses instead. Only businesses who have a strong history of compliance with state medical marijuana laws will be considered. Other requirements include a background check, and a willingness to work with local governments over things like zoning requirements.
It was not too surprising to some that the liquor businesses, who work closely with the federal Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, have been unsure about whether or not to jump into an industry that is still illegal on a federal level. However, according to Stephanie Siverston, the Chief Financial Officer for Lee’s Discount Liquor, they are still waiting on guidance and information from the state on how the industry will be structured before making decision on whether or not to take this opportunity.
“We haven’t picked a side one way or the other,” Siverston said. “We’re waiting to get some guidance and information from the state and everyone involved in it to find out how it’s going to be structured. We’re interested in learning more about it.”
It is uncertain whether or not liquor wholesalers will still have the opportunity to apply for a marijuana distribution license once they start offering the role to medical marijuana businesses – so they may want to make a decision soon. Temporary regulations for the licensing, distribution and sale of marijuana will be in place soon, and at that point the state will be looking to get businesses licensed quickly, so there might not be a lot of time left to consider it, especially when medical marijuana businesses will likely be ready to jump on the opportunity to enter the recreational market.