Never has the statement “Follow the money” been truer. Last week, the state of Nevada, which began allowing the sale of recreational marijuana on July 1, 2017, declared a “State of Emergency” because – wait for it – the state was running out of pot. Apparently, demand is very high, and (typical of government) the statutorily defined supply is ridiculously structured, so Nevada pot stores are running “dangerously low” on stock.
I've heard of states of emergency for floods, or wildfires. Perhaps they have been called during epic winter storms. Generally, they are used when lives and property are at risk on a large scale. But running out of weed? Really?
It is only when you see who originally declared the emergency that the situation makes any sense. The statement of emergency was issued by none other than the Nevada Tax Commission.
No weed = no tax = no money for the government. Or in this case, no money for the schools. It is comforting to know that our children's education is now dependent on the availability and recreational use of marijuana. I've heard of drug education, but this seems a bit extreme.
Even the governor has endorsed the statement of emergency on this issue. Governor Brian Sandoval's office did confirm that a state of emergency is normally reserved for natural disasters (or other things that are actually important). But the governor feels that in this situation, “a statement of emergency allows for "a prompt response to a temporary situation."
Under that broad description, a hemorrhoidal flare up could be declared a state of emergency.
The distribution issue is at the center of a legal fight between the state and Nevada's liquor industry, which sued to get in on the business. Nevada currently has appealed to the state's supreme court. The tax authority claimed most liquor wholesalers who have applied to distribute marijuana have yet to meet requirements to be licensed.
"The business owners in this industry have invested hundreds of millions of dollars to build facilities across the state. They have hired and trained thousands of additional employees to meet the demands of the market. Unless the issue with distributor licensing is resolved quickly, the inability to deliver product to retail stores will result in many of these people losing their jobs and will bring this nascent market to a grinding halt. A halt in this market will lead to a hole in the state's school budget," the department said in its statement.
"Based on reports of adult-use marijuana sales already far exceeding the industry's expectations at the state's 47 licensed retail marijuana stores, and the reality that many stores are running out of inventory, the Department must address the lack of distributors immediately," the statement said. "Some establishments report the need for delivery within the next several days."
The Tax Commission has indicated it will consider emergency regulations “to provide a structure for marijuana distribution to retailers”. Those regulations would ostensibly allow for liquor wholesalers to get in on the pot business.
Employers in the state should rest easy, knowing that their government is working to ensure the steady supply of recreational marijuana for their employees. Be assured that while your workers might be toiling under the influence, the tax money will keep flowing to the state and your children's education will be provided. I probably shouldn't be concerned with a state promoting (through facilitation) the use of a substance that is still illegal at the federal level. But I am just an old conservative fuddy duddy. What do I know?
If we follow the money, we will really get a sense of what is truly important.
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