Nevada dispensaries are selling marijuana at such a fast rate since opening their doors July 1 the state is now reporting a weed shortage that could threaten jobs in the burgeoning industry.
The Nevada Department of Taxation announced Friday that less than a week into the first legal sales in the state they must take emergency measures to ensure the steady flow of marijuana to dispensaries. Gov. Brian Sandoval endorsed a “statement of emergency” from the department to adopt measures that will help bolster the marijuana supply for dispensaries by reforming rules on distributor licensing, reports USA Today.
Advocates for Nevada’s marijuana industry say if the issue is not resolved quickly, jobs at small businesses across the state will be placed in jeopardy. The Nevada Tax Commission is expected to vote on the new measures as early as Thursday.
“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,” Stephanie Klapstein, a spokesman for the Department of Taxation, told USA Today.
“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.”
The marijuana industry is off to a lucrative start in Nevada, raking in nearly $3 million over the first four days of legal sales.
The Nevada Department of Taxation will not release official figures for marijuana sales or revenue collected until September, but the Nevada Dispensary Association estimates that the state has already pulled in roughly $1 million in revenue from legal sales. Between Saturday and Tuesday, the group estimates that dispensaries made roughly $3 million from sales, reports USA Today.
The early sales figures put the state dispensaries on pace to make nearly $30 million by the end of the year.
“This is the entertainment capital of the world,” State Sen. Tick Segerblom told The Cannabist.
“It’s a perfect complement to what we do. We’re going to be like Amsterdam on steroids.”
Enthusiasts lined the streets to get a spot when the dispensaries first opened for business Saturday. Blum, a marijuana company with several dispensaries across the state, said its location in Reno served roughly 1,000 customers within the first 24-hours of business, making $100,000.
“Naturally, it will drop off because the first day was a novelty,” Riana Durrett, executive director for the Nevada Dispensary Association, told USA Today.
“I think (sales) will stay healthy because this market exists now, and I think people will be relieved to come out of the shadows.”
The sales figures mirror numbers from Oregon and Colorado during the first days of legalization. Oregon raked in roughly 3.2 million in the first day of legalization while Colorado dispensaries made $5 million over the first week of legal sales. Colorado’s combined medical and recreational weed industry is now worth more than $1 billion annually.
Medical marijuana is legal in 29 states and Washington, D.C., where it is also legal for recreational use. Nearly 20 percent of Americans now have access to legal pot.