IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Nevada Marijuana Dispensaries Are Already Running Low on Pot

Nevada is the only state that offers marijuana distribution licenses exclusively to liquor wholesalers — but that could change on Thursday.
Image: A man examines marijuana for sale at The Source dispensary
A man examines marijuana for sale at The Source dispensary, on July 1, 2017, in Las Vegas. Recreational marijuana became legal in Nevada on Saturday.John Locher / AP

Less than two weeks after Nevada began the legal sale of recreational marijuana, dozens of dispensaries in the state are worried they soon won’t have any pot left.

The plant sales quickly outpaced the expectation of store owners and local officials, who saw lines out the door when recreational marijuana purchases began on July 1.

But a court ruling has made it impossible for the 47 dispensaries to restock without alcohol wholesalers.

The wholesalers currently have an exclusive right to distribution licenses, and will for the first 18 months recreational marijuana is legal in the state. Nevada is the only state with legal, recreational marijuana to have this agreement.

But that could change Thursday afternoon.

Gov. Brian Sandoval has endorsed the Department of Taxation’s Statement of Emergency, which would allow Nevada to adopt temporary regulations regarding the licensing of marijuana distributors.

"The next step for the Department of Taxation is to enact permanent regulations on the same topic," Mari N. St. Martin, communications director for Sandoval, wrote to NBC News in an email.

St. Martin added that the governor has endorsed statements of emergency in the past.

"The adoption of an emergency regulation is not uncommon and is used in narrow circumstances that allow for a prompt response to a temporary situation," she said.

If the Department determines there are not enough liquor wholesalers to serve the current marijuana market and votes on the temporary regulation, dispensaries could become eligible for the distribution licenses.

“It’s pretty amazing for our governor, who publicly opposed [recreational marijuana legalization], to now come full circle,” state Sen. Tick Segerblom told NBC News. “He has bent over backwards to make sure this happened. It’s very exciting.”

Segerblom — who has been a proponent of legalizing recreational marijuana, and even has a strain named after him — said if the Department of Taxation votes in favor of expanding the license eligibility, the cannabis conundrum will be immediately rectified.

“The current law is you have to be a liquor distributor to transport marijuana and none of those people have licenses,” Segerblom said. Medical marijuana distributors currently cannot provide recreational marijuana to dispensaries, but if the emergency regulation is adopted, Segerblom said, that will be "fixed in a second.”

Segerblom said people who are licensed to distribute medical marijuana already meet the requirements for transporting pot, including background checks.

Related: Legal weed comes to Nevada — and alcohol industry wants a piece of the pot

Currently, none of the seven alcohol wholesalers that have applied for licenses have been inspected by the state to determine if they meet the criteria and thus, none have obtained a distribution license.

Image: Customers buy cannabis products at Essence Vegas Cannabis Dispensary
Customers buy cannabis products at Essence Vegas Cannabis Dispensary after the start of recreational marijuana sales began on July 1, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Ethan Miller / Getty Images

"We continue to work with the liquor wholesalers who have applied for distribution licenses, but most don’t yet meet the requirements that would allow us to license them. Even as we attempted to schedule the final facility inspection for one of the applicants this week, they told us their facility was not ready and declined the inspection," Nevada Department of Taxation spokeswoman Stephanie Klapstein said in a statement to the Reno Gazette-Journal.

Segerblom said even though dispensaries are nearing the end of their supply, sales are still taking place and no one has run bone-dry, yet.

The state stands to earn millions from the sales of recreational marijuana, but the tax collection data won't be available for several weeks, according to the Associated Press. More than 40,000 transactions were reported in the first week, according to St. Martin.