(Photo: Hugh Jackson) Essence received multiple additional licenses as a result of litigation among dispensary owners. Some licensees received none. (Photo: Hugh Jackson)
A measure before lawmakers would scrap Nevada’s merit-based cannabis licensing system in favor of a scheme that allows current licensees to expand and saturate the market, while effectively locking out new applicants, according to the Nevada Dispensary Association, which represents the state’s marijuana sellers.
Senate Bill 235 would allow dispensaries to convert their medical licenses to recreational permits, a move that could result in the addition of 55 new retail stores, according to NDA President Tisha Black, resulting in a 140 percent increase in new dispensaries in the state.
“Senate Bill 235 disregards market necessity, disregards established statutory restrictions, disregards the need to stabilize the industry, avoids the competitive licensing process, and significantly increases the number of recreational licenses for a distinguished few, all of whom already have dispensary licenses,” Black wrote Wednesday in an email to members that was obtained by the Current.
The bill is sponsored by Sen. Dallas Harris and has the backing of “all the members of the Dispensary Association who didn’t win a license in the last round,” says NDA board member and former state lawmaker David Goldwater, co-owner of Inyo Fine Cannabis, and one of the bill’s primary backers.
“The lawsuit was the catalyst for the bill,” Goldwater says of marathon litigation in which a judge found the Nevada Department of Taxation engaged in favoritism in issuing licenses in 2018. “The plaintiffs prevailed but no remedy was available” in the form of additional licenses.
Goldwater says SB 235 pits “the little guys against the big guys.” But he admits it closes the door on further diversification of Nevada’s cannabis industry, which is largely controlled by corporate interests, i.e., wealthy white men.