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How Many Retail Dispensaries Are Coming to Nevada?

May 25, 2017


It was just announced this morning that one of Marapharm Ventures' licenses received final approval for the cultivation and sale of medical marijuana. According to the announcement, "this license is now positioned to make application for recreational marijuana licensing. To qualify for this, a license holder is to complete a taxable transaction on or before May 31, 2017."


This had many investors wondering how many other dispensaries will Marapharm be competing with. Other readers were curious about Nevada's retail marijuana program in general, given the potential for canna-tourism. It would be one more reason to visit a city like Reno or Las Vegas. There are pretty straight forward guidelines for all of this, set by Nevada's Department of Taxation.


On Nov. 8, 2016, Nevada voters passed ballot question 2, with 54.47% of the vote. This legalized the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana for adults 21 or older and provides a program for the retail sale of marijuana. Ballot question 2 also assigns responsibility to the Department of Taxation for establishing licensing qualifications and procedures, as well as the regulation of marijuana establishments like cultivation facilities, distributors, and retailers. 


The Nevada Department of Taxation recently released the temporary regulation for a "quick start" program. They began accepting applications on May 15, 2017, and those licenses will be effective July 1, 2017. Eventually, there will be permanent retail regulations that will take effect at the beginning of 2018.



Like many others, Marapharm is eyeing Las Vegas as the home for its Nevada cannabis operations. The number of marijuana retailers is limited based on the population of the county it's in, as determined by the Nevada Department of Taxation. The guidelines are as follows:



  • There can be up to 80 stores in counties with a population of more than 700,000.

  • There can be up to 20 stores in counties with a population between 100,000 and 700,000.

  • There can be up to 4 stores in counties with a population between 55,000 and 100,000.  

  • There can be up to 2 stores in counties with a population of fewer than 55,000.  



This means that there can be a maximum of Looking at Nevada's population by county, we can determine how many dispensaries one might expect per county. 




As you might have guessed by looking at the infographic above, Las Vegas is in Clark County, Nevada. With a population of 2,198,682 people, we can expect a maximum of 80 stores in Clark County. Clark County is the only county in Nevada that qualifies for up to 80 stores.


Counties with a population between 100,000 and 700,000 people can have up to 20 stores. The only county in Nevada that fits into this category is Washoe County with a population of 444,478.


Counties with a population between 55,000 and 100,000 people can have up to 4 stores. The only county in Nevada that fits into this category is Carson City with a population of 55,283. Counties that are close to the minimum threshold but do not meet it are Elko County and Lyon County with populations of 54,305 and 53,844 respectively. These two counties can each have up to 2 stores.


Counties with populations lower than 55,000 are capped at having 2 stores. Besides Elko and Lyon Counties, there are a handful that fit into this category including Douglas, Humboldt, Mineral, Nye, Eureka, Lincoln, Lander, Pershing, Storey, White Pine, Esmeralda, and Churchill counties. 



Based on these guidelines, there will be a maximum of 132 retailers in Nevada. There is no doubt that there will be substantial competition for these retail opportunities, as it is a lucrative business. In the meantime, this map represents the potential opportunity for each county. 




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