It’s been over a week since recreational cannabis usage in Nevada was officially legalized, and now the state is dealing with an unforeseen problem: too much success. Nevada’s pot dispensaries are running dangerously low on product, and officials have declared it a state of emergency. Or here’s an alternative headline: “Nevada runs out of cannabis.”
Despite the obvious reason behind this—the obvious popularity of weed—how is this even possible? Is this even real life?
A State of Emergency: Nevada Runs Out of Cannabis
No, calling it a “state of emergency” isn’t hyperbole. Just ask Governor Brian Sandoval, who urged officials to broadcast the shortage as such.
As NPR reported, part of the problem has to do with licensing. As of now, the only companies legally able to distribute product to dispensaries must also have a liquor license. Because of these restrictions, which limit who can dispense what, supplies are drastically low. Pairing that with the fact that only 47 dispensaries are currently in operation—and that roughly 400,000 unique purchases were made since July 1—well Houston, we have a problem.
On top of that, no new licenses have been given to liquor distributors since legalization went into effect. Even though seven different business have applied for license approval since July 5, none have been granted so far, according to the state’s tax department.
According to Andrew Jolley, the president of the Nevada Dispensary Association, the whole operation is “running on fumes.” (Props for the dad joke.)
Solving the Problem
The imperative for lawmakers to solve the shortage is a great one. Greatly affected by the Great Recession, the state has been plagued by bankruptcy for years. With almost $100 million in tax revenue expected to flow back into the economy within the next couple years, the industry could essentially rescue the state.
Many expect Sandoval to call a meeting with the Nevada Tax Commission on Thursday. If so, legislators will most likely implement “emergency regulations,” which could entail loosening distribution regulations to reverse the dry spell.
Deonne Contine, the executive director of the commission, underlined the urgency of preventing and reversing the shortage at all costs. If not dealt with properly, she warned that recreational consumers could once again turn to the “black market” for product.
“It is necessary to implement them on an emergency basis,” she wrote in a statement released to the press.