Nevada Can Begin To Sell Recreational Marijuana Early

Licenses will be issued as early as July 1, instead of Jan. 1.

Licensed medical marijuana dispensaries in good standing with the state of Nevada can begin selling marijuana for recreational purposes as early as July 1, the state tax board voted Monday.

The Nevada Tax Commission voted 6-1 to approve temporary licenses for shops that qualify so sales can begin months before the Jan. 1 deadline for the commission to draft its rules. These temporary licenses will expire on Jan. 1, giving the state Department of Taxation time to test the regulations before the program goes into full effect in 2018.

Marijuana retailers are required to have state and local licenses to operate, and most Nevada counties have yet to approve their own regulations for the adult-use retail market. When they do, adults in Nevada will be able to legally purchase up to an ounce of marijuana or 1/8 ounce of purified concentrates. The law also allows up to six marijuana plants to be grown for personal use.

The Department of Taxation, Nevada’s regulating body for the recreational marijuana industry, will start to accept license applications from existing medical marijuana licensees on May 15. (Nevada legalized medical cannabis in 2015.)

Those who favor the end of marijuana prohibition in the United States have been concerned about the future of legalization under President Donald Trump. While as a candidate, Trump said he was supportive of medical marijuana “100 percent” and would respect states’ rights on the issue. But his selection of Jeff Sessions as attorney general, an anti-marijuana hard-liner, was troubling to those who favor progressive drug laws. However, Sessions recently said that he believes Obama-era marijuana guidance, which allowed states to enact their own legalization rules, is “not too far from good policy.”

However, a statement Trump issued Friday after he signed a government funding bill, which contains protections for state medical marijuana programs against federal interference, appeared to signal that he could ignore those protections, an opening that left some in the marijuana industry on edge.

Nevada was one of four states that approved the taxation and regulation of recreational marijuana in 2016 ― doubling the number of states with legal access to recreational marijuana, bringing more progressive drug laws to nearly a quarter of the nation’s population. Twenty-nine states have legalized marijuana for medical purposes.

Marijuana is the most commonly used illicit substance in the U.S., and the trend of states bucking prohibition in favor of legal regulation of the plant reflects a broad cultural shift toward greater acceptance of marijuana. National support for legalization has risen dramatically in recent years, reaching historic highs in multiple polls. Still, the plant remains illegal under federal law.

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