Recreational pot shops might open in Nevada as early as July 1st under a deadline scheduled by the state’s top tax official recently. Regulators at the state Department of Taxation have been creating deadlines and regulations to govern recreational cannabis since voters in Nevada made it legal for adults 21 and older in November. Executive Director Deonne Contine told a panel of state legislators that she hopes to publicize a draft of those rules in March and begin accepting applications for temporary licenses to sell recreational marijuana in May, which would be far in advance of the state’s January 1, 2018 timeline.
Temporary licenses will only be open to medical pot shops in good standing with the state. Contine said she’s aiming to green-light those businesses to sell to the public by July 1st. Based on Contine’s unsure timeline, any entrepreneur could apply for a license to sell recreational cannabis in Nevada as soon as October 2018. Contine said Nevada’s laws will borrow heavily from the state’s medical cannabis rules and Colorado’s recreational pot laws. They will include a formula to set the wholesale price of pot, which will determine how much the state collects under a voter-approved 15% excise tax. The regulations also define how and who can transport cannabis.
While tax regulators work on those guidelines, Joe Pollock, an official who oversees the state’s medical cannabis industry, has increasing worry of how commercial pot will affect the drug landscape in Nevada. Pollock said of medical marijuana shops, “Basically the rurals don’t have dispensaries. If anything, I would be worried that the black market would move toward those rural counties because the recreational marijuana will not be available conveniently in those counties.” Of the almost 25,000 medical cannabis patients in Nevada, 482 of them are under the age of 21, according to Pollock, deputy administrator of the state’s Division of Public and Behavioral Health. Unless Nevada ensures medical cards and cheaper prices than recreational pot, Pollock said, those minors are some of the only patients with an incentive to continue using marijuana for medical purposes.