The Nevada ballot initiative that legalized marijuana gave liquor distributors first dibs on marijuana distribution licenses, meaning they would have acted as wholesalers between cultivators, production companies and retail shops. Pictured: A budtender organizes and inventories marijuana flower at The Health Center, a medical cannabis and recreational marijuana dispensary in Denver. (Vince Chandler, The Denver Post)

Nevada seeking weed middle-men. Start date: ASAP

The Department of Taxation says that because of the lack of interest from liquor wholesalers, they will accept distribution applications from medical marijuana license holders

LAS VEGAS — Liquor wholesalers have been slow to sign on to Nevada’s new legal marijuana market, meaning the state must look elsewhere for marijuana middle-men with recreational cannabis sales slated to start July 1, according to the state Department of Taxation.

A notice from the Department of Taxation says that because of the lack of interest from liquor wholesalers, the department will accept marijuana distribution applications from medical marijuana license holders, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.

License holders interested in being marijuana distributors must complete a background check, work with local governments on local zoning issues, and will have to demonstrate compliance with marijuana laws over the past several years.

The department expects to begin accepting applications after the state adopts temporary regulations in May or June.

The ballot initiative that legalized marijuana in Nevada gave liquor distributors first dibs on marijuana distribution licenses, meaning they would have acted as wholesalers between cultivators, production companies and retail shops. But tax department spokeswoman Stephanie Klapstein said the distributors have not jumped at the opportunity.

Stephanie Siverston, chief financial officer for Lee’s Discount Liquor, said the company hasn’t made any final decisions about recreational marijuana.

“We haven’t picked a side one way or the other,” Siverston said. “We’re waiting to get some guidance and information from the state and everyone involved in it to find out how it’s going to be structured. We’re interested in learning more about it.”

Officials say that because alcohol distributors work closely with the federal Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, the tax department wasn’t surprised by the lack of interest in dealing with federally illegal marijuana.

Information from: Las Vegas Review-Journal