Dispensaries in Nevada are expected to begin selling recreational marijuana product by July.
Recreational marijuana products are expected to be available to adults in Nevada as early as July, the Reno Gazette-Journal reports. Nevada legalized recreational marijuana last November, after 54 percent of voters supported Question 2, and since then, the Department of Taxation has been working on crafting the program’s regulatory framework. Earlier this month, the department presented its timeline to a panel of state lawmakers.
While Nevadan adults were allowed to possess and use marijuana since January 1, sales are not allowed until regulations are written. The law requires that the department finalize the regulations no later than December 31, but taxation officials told the Senate Judiciary Committee that they expected to have those regulations adopted by May 8. If the department meets in May deadline, they would be able to begin issuing licenses by July 1.
Under the new law, Nevada adults aged 21 and older are legally allowed to possess up to 1 ounce of marijuana or one-eighth of an ounce or less of concentrated marijuana, as well as and grow up to six cannabis plants for personal use.
Question 2 imposes a 15 percent excise tax, with revenue going to enforcing the measure and into the state general fund earmarked to fund K-12 education. A report last summer by New Frontier and Arcview Market Research projected that Nevada could generate $629.5 million in legal marijuana sales by 2020. Marijuana Business Daily estimates that Nevada’s recreational market could generate annual sales of $450 million to $550 million within a few years of launch.
There’s concern among some lawmakers that the demand for recreational marijuana will create supply challenges and cause product to sell out before it’s made accessible to the state’s more than 25,000 qualified medical marijuana patients.
“We need to make sure that the people who need it for medical reasons get first dibs,” Sen. Michael Roberson (R-Henderson) told the Reno Gazette-Journal.
There’s also concern that there won’t be enough licensed marijuana distributors throughout the state. The state’s 150-or-so existing liquor distributors are the only ones that will be able to apply for recreational marijuana distributing licenses and most of those are located within more urban, populated areas, prompting some to worry whether the black market will continue to be prevalent in rural counties.
The pricing of the product, industry consultants have warned, will also impact whether the legal market will be able to overtake the existing illegal one.
“It’s good old supply and demand at the end of the day. It’s the businesses out there and then the consumer. Ultimately, it’s the consumer at the end of the day that decides if they want to pay that price,” said Jacob Rowberry, consultant with the Marijuana Policy Group.
Before the state’s marijuana regulations are adopted, temporary regulations will be offered and the program will hold a mandatory public hearing in mid-March.