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Nevada alcohol distributors make case to move marijuana - June 19th, 2017

 

CARSON CITY — A Carson City district judge was hearing arguments Monday on objections by liquor distributors to emergency Tax Department regulations that would open up the opportunity to transport recreational marijuana from production facilities to retailers.

Alcohol distributors argue the agency it trying to shut them out of the business and that allowing other businesses to be involved in the distribution to retail dispensaries conflicts with the ballot measure legalizing recreational marijuana.

Question 2, approved by voters last year, required recreational marijuana to be regulated the same way as alcohol products in Nevada.

The issue is whether liquor distributors have the exclusive right to distribute marijuana from grow facilities to the dispensaries.

An emergency regulation adopted by the Nevada Tax Commission opened up the distribution process to pot distributors as well.

First up in the hearing was Kurt Brown, manger and owner of Capitol Beverages, who said he has the ability as a liquor distributor to distribute recreational marijuana to every retail establishment in Nevada.

Brown said he has been in the alcohol distribution business for 45 years and has 160 retail customers.

In response to a question from Carson City attorney Kevin Benson, representing the Independent Alcohol Distributors of Nevada, Brown said: “I could do it myself.”

Brown said he expressed interest in the business when the Tax Department announced in 2016 its intention to develop regulations for recreational marijuana distribution, which is scheduled to be available for sale starting July 1.

Brown formed a new business, Paladin, to be a distributor for marijuana from production and cultivation facilities to the retail dispensaries.

But since he expressed interest in late 2016, the Tax Department developed regulations and determined that the interest expressed by the state’s liquor distributors was insufficient to provide the distribution.

Benson said last week five liquor distributors of the 69 statewide have applied to the Tax Department to distribute recreational marijuana.

The hearing before Carson City District Judge James Wilson is expected to last much of the day.

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Contact Sean Whaley at swhaley@reviewjournal.com or 775-461-3820. Follow @seanw801 on Twitter.