Las Vegas Sun

March 24, 2019

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Alcohol wholesalers pushing for recreational marijuana initiative

Marijuana Denver

Brennan Linsley / AP

In this May 8, 2014, photo, a customer pays cash for retail marijuana at 3D Cannabis Center in Denver.

Alcohol wholesalers play a crucial role in providing the Las Vegas economy with an important lubricant — and they have the political clout to match.

Now, many of those same companies are angling for a piece of what could be Nevada’s next big vice — recreational marijuana.

The 2016 ballot will feature a measure that would fully legalize marijuana. If passed, Nevada would join Colorado, Washington, Alaska and Oregon in allowing recreational pot.

In Nevada, liquor distributors have given a combined $87,500 to a campaign to pass the measure, according to the Center for Public Integrity.

And though it may seem counterintuitive for liquor distributors to be spending to legalize a competing product, they have a good reason. If approved, the ballot measure would give alcohol distributors the exclusive right to distribute marijuana for the first 18 months of the industry’s existence.

Nationwide, distributors gave $14.6 million in 2014 to state candidates, parties and ballot issues.

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