Nevada’s Recreational Cannabis Industry: Going Gangbusters

When Nevada started selling recreational marijuana two weeks ago, everyone assumed it would be successful. Still, no one was quite expecting how quickly it would kick off.

On July 1, people lined up outside of dispensaries for up to three hours to get their hit. Dispensary managers told CNNMoney that demand was almost double what they had anticipated. And while some of it can be attributed to the novelty of legal pot, there’s something to be said about adding a new vice to Sin City.

Tourists and residents alike are eagerly buying product in the new industry, which is expected to be worth an estimated $100 million in taxes to the state over two years. That’s if they get their supply problem sorted.

Already stores are running out of cannabis as the state’s 50 dispensaries try to satisfy impatient customers. It’s gotten so bad that Governor Brian Sandoval endorsed the Department of Taxation’s call for a “statement of emergency,” which would allow for more distributors to help supply keep up with demand.

What does this mean for the state’s marijuana industry? Big sales.

In just the first four days of legal recreational marijuana, Nevada generated $3 million in sales revenue and $500,000 in tax revenue, according to the Nevada Dispensary Association. At this pace, it puts the state on track to make $30 million over the next six months.

When compared to Oregon and Colorado—Oregon dispensaries made $3.2 on day one and $11 million over the first week, while Colorado made $5 million in its first week—Nevada’s sales might seem low, but there’s a big difference in distribution. Oregon has 418 dispensaries, while Colorado has 600 dispensaries—a far cry above 50.

Colorado and Oregon also have the benefit of being able to restock their inventories. In Nevada, only alcohol wholesalers are allowed to move marijuana from growers to retailers; a rule created to protect alcohol sales and promote regulation. Unfortunately, it has backfired. The Department of Taxation has only issued a single distribution license—to Blackbird Logistics Corporation—twelve days after legal recreational sales began and days after many stores already ran out of popular products.

There’s no doubt that Blackbird will have a difficult time keeping up with demand. The company’s CEO, Tim Condor told CNNMoney that they already had plans to double their 30-employee workforce by the end of the month, but will it be enough?

At this point, there’s no way to know what will happen, but all eyes are on Nevada as the state continues to figure out its new and budding industry.

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