Most of new recreational marijuana licenses were awarded to few vendors – Las Vegas Sun

John Locher / AP

A customer buys marijuana at the Essence cannabis dispensary in Las Vegas, July 1, 2017.

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After months of speculation, more than 60 new recreational marijuana dispensary licenses were awarded last week by the Nevada Department of Taxation to business owners currently operating licensed pot facilities.

And despite state legislative efforts to diversify ownership in the expanding industry, only about 10 of roughly 150 applicants for the new pot stores received licenses. To the dismay of some in the industry, those who were granted the new licenses received them in large quantities.

While the department has not publicly released information on which entities were awarded licenses — stating privacy until the business is operational — a combination of company announcements and information from industry sources has provided a list for 54 of the 61 licenses issued:

Verano (Zen Leaf): 11

Essence Cannabis Dispensary: 8

Green Growth Brands (The+Source): 7

Tap Roots: 7

Thrive: 6

Deep Roots: 6

MPX (GreenMart): 4

Nevada Made: 3

Sahara Wellness: 1

Green Therapeutics: 1

Of the 61 licenses, 10 were issued in Las Vegas, 10 in unincorporated Clark County, six in Henderson and five in North Las Vegas. Another 20 combined licenses were issued for the 14 Nevada counties that don’t permit recreational marijuana sales, meaning only 41 of the new dispensaries are likely to open during the next year.

The licenses are conditional, meaning the pot stores must begin operating within 12 months or the licenses will be rescinded. Dispensaries also require local approval to open for business.

The application process was open to pot license holders, including those operating cultivation and production facilities in addition to dispensaries. Only testing lab owners were left out of

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