Nevada Accused of Not Playing Fair with Cannabis Licensing

Count Nevada as another state that isn’t make it easy when it comes to the implementation of recreational cannabis. In what was ostensibly an effort to create a more effectively regulated marijuana industry, the state sought to limit to the number of available cannabis business licenses in the state. How exactly this was done has been the subject of about a dozen lawsuits from businesses that say they were unfairly denied licenses. A central part of the accusations is campaign contributions made by foreign actors with the design to influence who got cannabis licenses. The lawsuits have required the state to spend considerably in legal resources as part of its recreational marijuana implementation.

Geography its Own Barrier to Access

It’s one thing to limit the number of cannabis licenses to avoid a free-for-all atmosphere that would inevitably lead to neighborhoods with higher than needed concentrations of pot shops with boom-and-bust cycles that change the character of neighborhoods. But like many western states, Nevada is dominated by just 1-2 population centers and a lot of rural areas in between. So, while a limited number of cannabis licenses in Las Vegas might create a green rush with an environment that’s ripe for corruption, it leaves serious questions about access in more rural areas of the state. The longer the drive for people, the more likely that they will find a closer, albeit illegal, source for their cannabis.

New Standards of Information Transparency

One of the ways in which the state is pushing back against the lawsuit is to take the “unprecedented” step of releasing details “regarding who applied for licenses, who received licenses, their ranking, score and the process of issuing marijuana license.” It’s unclear to how exculpatory this information may or may not be. While Nevada may not have as strong a religious moralism as other states, it does have a long-documented history of pay-for-play corporate and governmental culture. And this culture seems to be interfering with recreational cannabis implementation. A parallel issue isn’t just the process of choosing specific owners for the limited number of licenses. It’s also the total number, composition, and distribution of cannabis stores around the state.

The Future of Cannabis in Nevada

Despite current restrictions, the number of licenses is unlikely to maintain its current caps. As the state’s recreational cannabis industry matures and the state determines what does and doesn’t need regulations and restrictions, new licenses, businesses, and products are likely to come on to the market. The state already publishes information guides for applying for a license, calculating and paying taxes, and employees of these businesses.

It’s also worth pointing out that there are already third-party online tutorials, like this one from GreenZipp, helping people understand what’s involved in starting a recreational marijuana business in Nevada.

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