Nevada judge gives OK for some new retail pot stores to open – Las Vegas Sun

Richard Vogel / AP

More than a dozen new dispensaries could open in Nevada’s booming retail marijuana market in coming weeks, after a judge gave the go-ahead Thursday to companies that underwent background checks and won licenses.

State marijuana regulators said as many as 36 stores could open.

But lawyers for the state and companies claiming the licensing process was flawed said about 16 cannabis shops could soon join the 65 currently open statewide.

Other new license holders would need more time to obtain local use permits and undergo final inspections.

Will Kemp, an attorney for the owners of Planet 13 and Medizin — whose applications for new licenses were denied — said he thinks about 12 new stores will open in the Las Vegas area, two in or around Reno and two elsewhere.

The ruling by Clark County District Court Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez softened the effect of an injunction she granted a week ago freezing the entire permit process so regulators could identify licensees that met screening requirements when applications were submitted a year ago.

All sides expect her order to be appealed to the Nevada Supreme Court.

Meanwhile, dozens of plaintiffs who lost bids for licenses last year will head to trials before state and federal judges. Ten lawsuits are pending.

Plaintiffs generally argue they were harmed because the process of ranking and choosing winners from among 462 applications was riddled with mistakes and bias.

The judge, who heard 18 days of evidence and testimony, agreed in her detailed 24-page order last week.

She bluntly called a decision by state tax officials to only require background checks of owners with a 5% share of a dispensary business a violation of the state constitution, “an abuse

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