A Nevada judge says he expects to decide Tuesday whether the state can move forward with plans for medical marijuana dispensaries to begin selling pot for recreational use for the first time on July 1.
Lawyers for the liquor industry and the Nevada Department of Taxation argued at a daylong hearing Monday whether the state has the authority to issue marijuana distribution licenses necessary to launch the sales to anyone besides alcohol distributors.
Carson City District Judge James Wilson said he had hoped to issue a decision following the more than six hours of testimony but now plans to rule Tuesday.
It’s been legal for adults to possess up to an ounce of marijuana in Nevada and consume it in private residences since the beginning of this year, but currently only medical dispensaries can sell it and only to people with medical cards.
The state maintains it has the power to temporarily license some existing medical marijuana cultivators and retailers to serve as their own recreational middlemen. It wants to get a head-start on collecting millions of dollars in tax revenue devoted to education before permanent rules are required by Jan. 1, 2018.
The liquor lobby sued, saying the state has failed to give it the first shot at distribution licenses as called for in the ballot measure approved by voters in November, the only legal pot state with that arrangement.
Wilson has blocked all licensing until the matter is resolved. He refused the state’s request last week to dismiss the lawsuit, a move that could jeopardize the July 1 startup.
Chief Deputy Attorney General William McKean said Monday further delay is “not going to stop the sale or use of (recreational) marijuana in Nevada.”
“As I walk down the street, there are a lot of people who are using