It’s estimated that Nevada’s legalization of cannabis for both medical and recreational use is currently generating approximately $500 million a year in revenue, which is good news for educational facilities statewide earmarked to benefit from sales and licensing fees. Nevada’s entrepreneurial spirit towards both legalizing cannabis use and licensing vendors is what makes it stand […]

 In Opinion

It’s estimated that Nevada’s legalization of cannabis for both medical and recreational use is currently generating approximately $500 million a year in revenue, which is good news for educational facilities statewide earmarked to benefit from sales and licensing fees.

Nevada’s entrepreneurial spirit towards both legalizing cannabis use and licensing vendors is what makes it stand out as a national leader in the industry. The state’s Department of Taxation issued 61 dispensary licenses in 2018, but unfortunately the majority of these licenses went to only a handful of companies.

A large number of small businesses applying for licensure were completely left out of the process. This is counterproductive to Nevada’s entrepreneurial spirit and, frankly, is simply wrong.

In response to this injustice, dozens of marijuana companies have joined a lawsuit against the Department of Taxation alleging irregularities in the licensing procedure. They allege there was no diversity, as required by state law, in the license selections. Also, the complaint alleges that the Department of Taxation used temp workers with no marijuana industry experience to evaluate applications. According to records, 32 of the licenses were awarded to only four companies, which included a company from Illinois receiving 11 of the prized licenses.

Critics of the lawsuit wrongly argue that the lawsuit will slow down the licensing process and deprive the state of revenue. In reality, what they are shrouding in their argument is their desire to keep the licensing pool small so they can become wealthier, due to the fact that they have already been licensed and don’t want any more competition.
Licensing transparency and fair competition in the medical and recreational cannabis industry will only make it stronger and less advantageous to corruption, while simultaneously growing the base of companies contributing to the Department of Taxation’s coffers.

Earlier this month Gov. Steve Sisolak signed into law Senate Bill 32, which made marijuana licensure more transparent in that the public will now know who applied for a license and how their applications were evaluated by the Department of Taxation. This is an excellent step in the right direction if Nevada truly wants to be the “Gold Standard” in licensing and regulation. Now, hopefully, current and future small cannabis businesses won’t be frozen out of the licensing process.

Kema Ogden is the co-owner of Top Notch THC, a cannabis dispensary and cultivation business based in Las Vegas, NV. She is a business entrepreneur, philanthropist and executive director of two Southern Nevada 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organizations.

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