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Amendment unmasks names of Nevada marijuana businesses, owners

Updated March 28, 2019 - 7:09 pm

Who are the players behind Nevada’s booming legal marijuana industry, which saw more than $400 million in sales in its first year? We could soon find out under a new amendment to a Senate bill approved by lawmakers Thursday.

Senate Bill 32 was amended Thursday to ensure the names of those who are awarded marijuana licenses would become public record.

State law allows the names of marijuana license holders and businesses to stay hidden. In December, the state awarded 61 recreational marijuana licenses, and it has not released the names of the recipients.

Several companies that were denied licenses have sued the Tax Department, challenging the application and license awarding process, including 11 cannabis business owners who sued after not receiving a license in December.

This week, the Department of Taxation presented an amendment to Senate Bill 32 aimed at adding significantly more transparency to the industry and the licensing process by making the names of the businesses public and disclosing how the department scores each applicant.

But some, like Sen. Ben Kieckhefer, R-Reno, questioned whether the initial amendment went far enough, as the business owners would have been able to hide behind business names and limited liability companies.

Tax Department Executive Director Melanie Young said the new language is about providing “maximum clarity” for the public.

The amendment was added to the bill and approved by members of the Senate Committee on Revenue and Economic Development Thursday. The bill now heads to the full Senate for a vote.

Helen Kalla, spokeswoman for Gov. Steve Sisolak, said the governor’s office pressed for the change in language to “remove any ambiguity in the language and make as clear as possible the governor’s desire for greater transparency in the marijuana licensing process.”

Contact Capital Bureau Chief Colton Lochhead at clochhead@reviewjournal.com or 775-461-3820. Follow @ColtonLochhead on Twitter.

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