Nevada Supreme Court Hears Oral Argument in Marijuana Distribution Dispute

Nevada Supreme Court Hears Oral Argument in Marijuana Distribution Dispute

Flickr / Phil Roeder / CC BY 2.0

On Oct. 3, 2017, the Nevada Supreme Court heard oral arguments regarding a dispute over the distribution rights of recreational marijuana in the state of Nevada. The case is the culmination of months of back and forth between the state’s Department of Taxation and the Independent Alcohol Distributors of Nevada.

Under state law, alcohol distributors are given the exclusive right to apply for recreational distribution licenses for the first 18 months of legalization, provided that there is sufficient interest from distributors.

Citing a lack of interest, the Department of Taxation, which is responsible for issuing distribution licenses, revoked that exclusivity and issued emergency regulations to begin accepting applications from businesses besides alcohol distributors.

According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, the oral arguments center around the summer hearing in which the department determined that there was insufficient interest from alcohol distributors.

The Independent Alcohol Distributors of Nevada claim that the hearing had a predetermined outcome before it even began and that the department cannot pass emergency regulations without evidence that an emergency is actually taking place.

For its part, the department points to marijuana shortages that occurred when sales first began and claim that without a proper distribution network dispensaries would quickly run out of marijuana, which in turn would result in a budgetary shortfall for the state government.

“Timing is an important issue here,” said Nevada Supreme Court Justice James Hardesty, as quoted by the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “Do we allow the agency to declare an emergency and justify it later? That looks like, to this record, what’s taken place.”

Hardesty went on to say that, given the complexities of the case, it may take several months to reach a verdict.

William Sumner, a freelance writer and marijuana journalist, was a staff writer for MJINews from May 2014 through February 2018. You can follow him on Twitter @W_Sumner.

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