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Nevada agency asks for nearly $900K to fund recreational marijuana startup costs

CARSON CITY — The Nevada Department of Taxation is asking for a loan of nearly $900,000 from a legislative account to fund startup costs for the implementation of the recreational marijuana law passed by voters in November.

The request for $887,491 from the Legislature’s Interim Finance Contingency Account will be considered Tuesday by the state Board of Examiners, a three-member panel that includes Gov. Brian Sandoval.

If approved, the request will go to the Legislature’s Interim Finance Committee for review. The panel is scheduled to meet Jan. 26. The loan would fund equipment and four positions starting Feb. 1 through the end of the fiscal year June 30. About $580,000 would go to information technology needs including programming services for the new type of tax.

The loan would be repaid by the agency to the account by tax revenue from recreational sales. The department will administer a 15 percent excise tax on wholesale recreational marijuana sales. State and local sales tax will also apply to the sales.

Voters approved Question 2 legalizing the recreational use of marijuana by adults aged 21 or older in the Nov. 8 election. The law took effect Jan. 1 but it could take up to a year before the drug is available for purchase through dispensaries licensed to sell for recreational use.

Medical marijuana dispensaries operate in many areas of the state, including 40 in Southern Nevada. State lawmakers may consider using the medical dispensaries to initially sell recreational marijuana when the 2017 session convenes next month.

The recreational marijuana law assigns responsibility to the Tax Department for establishing licensing qualifications and procedures, as well as the regulation of marijuana establishments like cultivation facilities, distributors and retailers.

The department is also working with the governor’s office on an executive order to develop a task force to provide guidance on issues related to the passage of Question 2.

The department is working to develop temporary regulations with a public workshop expected to be held early this year. The temporary regulations will allow the department to begin issuing licenses while they complete the lengthier process of developing permanent regulations, which ultimately must be reviewed by the Legislative Counsel Bureau.

Contact Sean Whaley at swhaley@reviewjournal.com or 775-461-3820. Follow @seanw801 on Twitter.

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