Nevada pot licenses on hold until Aug. 17 hearing | SierraSun.com
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Nevada pot licenses on hold until Aug. 17 hearing

District Judge Todd Russell has set a Thursday, Aug. 17, hearing to decide whether the Department of Taxation can issue marijuana distribution licenses to businesses other than liquor distributors.

Russell issued an injunction late Friday, Aug. 11, barring the department from issuing those licenses just one day after Taxation Director Deonne Contine ruled in a hearing the liquor distributors didn't have the ability to properly serve the industry. There area more than 60 pot dispensaries in Nevada needing product and she said she would immediately begin issuing licenses to businesses other than liquor distributors.

The issue centers on language in the voter approved initiative legalizing recreational pot that says, for the first 18 months of operation, distribution from cultivator to retailer must be handled by licensed liquor distributors unless taxation officials rule they can't handle the need. That was the gist of Contine's decision last Thursday, Aug. 10.

Russell's order states the department presented four witnesses to back its case but provided no supporting materials prior to the hearing last week, gave no opportunity to ask witnesses any questions and no opportunity to view or analyze the data used in deciding the liquor industry couldn't handle the job.

"It appears that the department invited the (witnesses) in order to support its pre-determined conclusion that alcohol distributors are insufficient," he wrote.

During that hearing, fully two-dozen pot retailers testified they're running out of product to sell and that only currently licensed distributor just can't keep up with demand. More than one testified it takes up to two weeks to get a delivery when they need several deliveries a day to meet demand.

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Russell's order disagreed with that conclusion, stating six distributors have already been licensed and that "it appears that there is little likelihood of any significant interruption of revenue from marijuana sales," by delaying licensing for a few days.

The hearing is set for 9:30 a.m. on Thursday in Carson District Court.