Ken Ritter , Associated Press Published 10:28 a.m. PT Aug. 16, 2019 | Updated 10:28 a.m. PT Aug. 16, 2019
For the people of Elko, Nev., vice has always been a fact of life. Now, one long-time illegal vice is suddenly out in the open. Jenny Kane, Andy Barron/RGJ
LAS VEGAS – Attorneys for dozens of bidders that weren’t approved for retail marijuana dispensary licenses last year raised the specter of broken laws and told a Nevada judge on Thursday the process was so unfair she should order a do-over.
Plaintiffs’ lawyers said testimony showed that required background checks weren’t conducted on all applicants; scoring was riddled with mistakes; state officials tipped the scales toward some prospective licensees over others; and at least some laws were broken.
Dominic Gentile, attorney for Serenity Wellness Center, was among those seeking an injunction to block the opening of 61 businesses that got permits.
He cited an email in which he said Jorge Pupo, the state Department of Taxation marijuana licensing chief, told tax official Kara Cronkhite to ignore allegations that one winning bidder sold marijuana to someone below legal age.
“Mr. Pupo directed Ms. Cronkhite to withdraw the investigation, to stop it, into … three sales to someone under 21 years old,” Gentile said.
“We don’t know how young. We don’t know the circumstances. We do know it was never brought to the attention of any law enforcement agency,” the attorney said. “They admitted to the crime and they admitted suppressing it.”
Clark County District Court Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez planned to hear Friday from attorneys for the state defending how officials evaluated 462 applications to award 61 new retail licenses to 16 applicants last December.
Pupo and Cronkhite testified