Nevada’s regulated marijuana industry has undergone significant changes since beginning commercial production in 2015. Yet, despite license expansion, continuous litigation and material changes to its regulatory oversight, Nevada’s entrepreneurs and visitors have enjoyed an ever-expanding and robust cannabis market.
There are six types of cannabis licenses in Nevada: cultivation facility; production facility; testing/laboratory; retail (recreational); medical dispensary; and distributor (recreational).
As of January 2019, there were 660 medical and recreational licenses awarded throughout the state, with 245 provisional licenses pending. In its last application round, the Department of Taxation awarded 17 companies the remaining 61 recreational retail licenses which, once open, will double the number of Nevada’s dispensaries. But in the Nevada tradition of confusion, the awards remain uncertain, as the former head of the state’s licensing division was placed on administrative leave due to allegations of improper conduct in the application process. Litigation relating to the process and all state applicants was set for trial on July 13.
Initially, Nevada’s marijuana program was governed by the Department of Health and Human Services. With the passage of recreational marijuana, governance was moved to the Department of Taxation. The program moved to the newly created Cannabis Compliance Board in July. This new structure is modeled after the state’s gaming rules and regulations and will provide consistent and concentrated oversight of Nevada’s $640 million dollar cannabis industry.
Despite constant uncertainty, Nevada’s market is well-developed. In 2019, state tax officials reported average sales of $46 million per month, a 30% increase over 2018. Driven by its early start program — and more than 55 million visitors to the state — Nevada has enjoyed an annual growth of approximately 20%.
There are two categories of purchases in Nevada, medicinal and recreational. Medicinal cardholders registered with the state, as well as medicinal cardholders from other states, may purchase greater amounts than recreational users and at a lower cost. People older than 21 may purchase up to one ounce of flower or 3.5 grams of concentrated marijuana for recreational use. However, strict restrictions prohibit consumption in moving vehicles and public spaces, and marijuana purchased in Nevada cannot be transported out of state. So, beware that cannabis purchased in Vegas should stay in Vegas — unless, of course, it is hemp-derived CBD!
Tisha Black | Black & LoBello
Ms. Black is the Managing Partner of Black & LoBello. She has been cannabis regulatory council since 2014. Ms. Black
has successfully written for and been awarded cannabis licenses on behalf of clients in several states and is presently the president of Nevada’s largest cannabis trade association, the Nevada Dispensary Association.