Danny Kresnyak / Flickr
A group of people protests on the street during the 2015 Vancouver Global Marijuana March on May 2, 2015. Gov. Sisolak signed SB32 to increase transparency in the marijuana industry

By Taylor Johnson and Kennady Pine

Governor Steve Sisolak signed SB32 into Nevada State Law on Friday, May 10, which will require the disclosure of names of any companies, owners and board members applying for a state-issued marijuana business licenses.

“This new law is an important step in a multi-pronged approach to greater transparency in marijuana licensing under my administration,” Gov. Sisolak said on Twitter. “As our legal marijuana industry has evolved and flourished, it’s more important than ever that the industry and public enjoy a completely open and transparent process, from licensing to operation, so that our marijuana industry can become the gold standard in the nation.”

Prior to SB32, information regarding marijuana applicants and licenses was strictly confidential. All taxpayers were protected by confidentiality statutes. The Department of Taxation requested applicants provide a waiver, which would allow the release of their names, but out of 127 applicants, only eight consented to the release of their names.

“The Department of Taxation staff is tasked with the fair and efficient collection of approximately seven billion dollars annually,” said Executive Director of Taxation Melanie Young in an open letter. “Marijuana licensing and regulation is a small, but significant Department function. Since 2015, the state has successfully evaluated thousands of license applications and successfully issued more than 900 licenses to operate marijuana establishments. Recently, intense competition for retail licenses has led to applicants challenging the process the state has implemented to issue licenses.”

Nevada housed around 60 dispensaries in 2018. Dispensaries reported nearly $425 million in recreational marijuana sales after a year of sales in Nevada, according to the Reno Gazette-Journal.

State lawmakers are aiming to control the sale of marijuana from unlicensed sellers. Sisolak has announced plans to create a panel to help manage the flourishing industry “strictly and fairly and in a way the state can be proud of,” but his office has not proposed legislation that would create a marijuana industry oversight board.

The Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act passed on Nov. 8, 2016.  The act legalized the purchase, possession, and consumption of recreational marijuana for those 21 and older. Although marijuana became legal in Nevada on Jan. 1, 2017, the location a consumer buys it, the amount they can have and where they can use it are still restricted by the law.

According to Business Insider, marijuana legalization expanded throughout the United States and the world last year. United States President Donald Trump signed the bipartisan Farm Bill into law in December 2018, which legalized hemp — a plant that’s roughly identical to marijuana but doesn’t contain THC — nationwide.

Currently, 10 states and Washington, DC, have legalized marijuana for recreational use for adults over the age of 21. 33 states have legalized medical marijuana.

Taylor Johnson and Kennady Pine can be reached at tkjohnson@sagebrush.unr.edu or on Twitter @NevadaSagebrush.