People line up at the NuLeaf marijuana dispensary, Saturday, July 1, 2017, in Las Vegas. Nevada dispensaries were legally allowed to sell recreational marijuana starting at 12:01 a.m. Saturday. (John Locher, The Associated Press)

Nevada alcohol distributors can’t halt weed flow, says judge

CARSON CITY, Nev. — A Nevada judge denied a request from a group of alcohol distributors to stop recently approved emergency regulations that allow the state to license some retailers to transport marijuana from growers to storefronts.

Carson City District Judge James Todd Russell heard arguments Monday and then cited the state’s position that the rules are protecting state tax revenue, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.

Nevada regulators earlier this month approved the rules to speed up licensing for pot distributors, a sticking point that launched a legal battle and threatened the flow of supplies after dozens of retailers started selling recreational marijuana on July 1.

Nevada’s law is unique among legal pot states, dictating that only alcohol wholesalers can move the drug from growers to stores for the next 18 months. But the state rewrote the rules used to enforce its pot law on July 13, making it clear that it’s legal under certain circumstances to license some retailers as distributors.

Before the new rules were approved, Gov. Brian Sandoval signed an emergency statement saying, “Without the retail sale of marijuana, the state will not realize the revenue on which the state budget relies.”

The alcohol distributors disagree. Attorney Kevin Benson, who represents the group, said there is no emergency that requires rules to allow anyone other than the alcohol wholesalers to distribute pot.

“Because the department itself is at fault for creating the situation that it now claims is an emergency, it cannot use that as a basis to short-circuit the rule making process,” Benson said in his filing.

The group will try to convince the regulators that there is no shortage of liquor distributors interested in moving marijuana and the industry should keep the exclusive distribution rights for the next 18 months, he said.

Information from: Las Vegas Review-Journal