Las Vegas Sun

July 21, 2017

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Early start’ program for recreational marijuana sales OK’d

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Steve Marcus

Marijuana plants are shown at a Desert Grown Farms Cultivation Facility in Las Vegas, Dec. 15, 2016.

Licensed Nevada medical marijuana facilities in good standing with state agencies will be allowed to start selling recreational marijuana on July 1, according to the industry’s new state regulating body.

The proposal for temporary “early start” recreational licenses was approved today in a vote by the Nevada Tax Commission.

The early start licenses will expire on Jan. 1, 2018. The temporary program was established to allowing the department to identify and solve problems with recreational weed before issuing more state certifications for the industry in 2018, said Deonne Contine, executive director of the Department of Taxation.

Six of seven Department of Taxation commissioners attending the meeting voted in favor of the regulations, with Commissioner Craig Witt opposed.

Department of Taxation spokeswoman Stephanie Klapstein said the regulations, which have been in the works since earlier this year, were designed to balance the state’s desire for tax revenue with the marijuana industry’s push to expand into the retail market.

“Most importantly, we wanted to balance that while protecting public health and safety,” Klapstein said.

“Our goal is to get the people that are ready and in good standing going, regulate them and make sure we’re doing the right thing,” Contine said during a hearing Wednesday in Carson City. “We plan to prudently go forward and figure out where we are once we get through the first wave of applications.”

Nevada voters in November approved a ballot question to allow adults to legally purchase of up to 1 ounce of marijuana or up to one-eighth ounce of marijuana concentrates. State-approved sales of marijuana for medical use have taken place in Nevada since 2015.

Nevada medical marijuana facilities — including dispensaries and cultivation and production facilities — earn good standing by going more than six months without a suspension of their state-issued licenses under the Nevada Division of Public and Behavioral Health, which is the current regulator body for Nevada's medical marijuana industry, Contine said. Nearly all of Nevada’s 190 current marijuana license holders meet that requirement.

Contine said last week that while the Department of Taxation planned to have its framework in line for early start recreational marijuana sales to begin on July 1, she warned that additional regulations from counties and local municipalities may prevent some dispensaries from starting sales on that date. Legislators cited a six-month moratorium on marijuana in Henderson as an example of local regulations that could delay the early start process for dispensaries there.

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