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Transparency could be coming to Nevada marijuana license info

Updated March 26, 2019 - 7:08 pm

CARSON CITY — Significantly more transparency could be coming to Nevada’s marijuana industry under a newly proposed bill amendment unveiled Tuesday.

The amendment comes amid scrutiny that not enough information is being disclosed about Nevada’s recreational marijuana industry or how the state Taxation Department awards marijuana licenses in the state, which has been challenged in several recent lawsuits.

“We’re hearing what people are saying about transparency, and we want to provide as much transparency as possible. And that’s what this is about,” Melanie Young, director of the department, said Tuesday after introducing Senate Bill 32 and the proposed amendment to lawmakers in the Senate Revenue and Economic Development Committee.

The state law was originally crafted to protect the identities of medical marijuana patients. When voters approved recreational marijuana in 2016, many of those same laws were adopted to cover the new industry. And when those laws were combined with laws to keep taxpayer information private, things such as the names of businesses that apply for licenses, those who are awarded the license and the process that Taxation Department uses to make those decisions was considered confidential.

That would change under the amendment, which would specify names of the businesses that apply for marijuana licenses would be considered public information, as would information about disciplinary action against license holders and the methodology, scoring and ranking system that the state uses to determine which applicants get licenses.

The amendment would make that transparency retroactive, dating to May 1, 2017, which is when the state started accepting applications for recreational marijuana licenses.

Some things would still be considered confidential, such as the name of the applicant and the license owner, other personal information, business blueprints, trade secrets and investigative materials.

No one testified in support or against the bill or the amendment Tuesday.

In a statement, Gov. Steve Sisolak called it “an important step” towards increasing transparency in the state.

“As our legal marijuana industry has evolved and flourished, it’s more important than ever that the industry and the public enjoy the benefits of a completely open and transparent process from licensing to operation so that our marijuana industry can become the gold standard in the nation,” Sisolak said.

Sen. Ben Kieckhefer, R-Reno, called the changes “absolutely necessary and appropriate,” but wondered if they should actually go further.

“If we’re going to regulate it like gaming, and that’s the way we’re going to go, individual licensees’ personal names and information are going to have to be to have to start being publicly available,” Kieckhefer said. “I don’t think it’s unreasonable to suggest that the names of the corporate owners of these establishments be public.”

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

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