Sisolak appointee quits after denying she holds weed licenses

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(Photo: Deonne Contine Facebook page)

Department of Administration Director Deonne E. Contine resigned her position Thursday, one day after telling the Current she is not the Deonne E. Contine who is listed as holding eight marijuana licenses in Nevada.

Contine previously regulated the marijuana licensing process as director of the Department of Taxation in the administration of former Gov. Brian Sandoval.

“I don’t have any marijuana licenses and never have,” Contine said Wednesday in an emailed response to questions from the Current sent Tuesday. “I don’t have a relationship with that company,” she wrote, referring to WSCC Inc, which operates as Sierra Wellness.

The Current has been unable to locate another Deonne E. Contine in the U.S., however, a number of marijuana licensees are foreign nationals.

In July, Contine told the Reno Gazette-Journal that she “was on the board for four or five months after leaving her Taxation Department position in January 2018,” and “she did not want to discuss it at length.”

“’I ultimately decided (actually very quickly) that the private sector just wasn’t where my heart is. I was happy to have the opportunity to transition back to public service, which is really what I have a passion for,’ said Contine, who has since left Sierra Wellness,” the RGJ wrote in July. 

The state’s list of licensees, which includes Deonne E. Contine, is dated August 1, 2019.

A spokesman for Sisolak has not said whether the governor knew of Contine’s involvement with the marijuana industry before appointing her to the Department of Administration.

“The Governor accepted outgoing Director Deonne Contine’s resignation, effectively (sic) immediately,” read a statement Thursday from Sisolak’s office. “The Governor thanks Ms. Contine for her service.”

On Wednesday, a spokeswoman for the Department of Taxation would not confirm if Contine and the Deonne E. Contine who holds the marijuana licenses are the same person.

“Pursuant to NRS 360.255 I cannot confirm if this is the same person,” spokesperson Eden Larson said in an email.

The law cited by Larson allows governors to have access to the records at issue.  Sisolak did not respond to a request from the Current Thursday morning, before Contine’s resignation, to confirm her claim that she is not the licensee. 

Sisolak appointed Contine to her position earlier this year. 

The financial disclosure form filed by Contine for her position as Director of the Department of Administration makes no mention of WSCC Inc, the marijuana licensee which lists Deonne E. Contine as an officer. 

Nevada law requires all elected and appointed officials to disclose sources of income as well as “each business entity … with which you or a member of your household is involved as a trustee, beneficiary of a trust, director, officer, owner in whole or in part, limited or general partner, or holder of a class of stock or security representing 1% or more of the total outstanding stock or securities issued by the business entity [NRS 281.571(7)]:”

WSCC Inc, which operates Sierra Wellness, the first dispensary to open in Reno, was in the process of being sold for $27.6 million, but a moratorium on license transfers could delay or derail the deal. 

Last month, Sisolak alleged corruption in Nevada’s marijuana industry and formed an emergency task force, which immediately put a hold on transfers. 

As director of the Department of Administration, Contine oversaw “the management and operations of Nevada state government including human resources, information technology, building construction and maintenance, purchasing and contracting, state vehicle management, and the protection of state property,” according to the state website.

Contine told the Nevada Independent Thursday she was leaving to spend time with her family.

Dana Gentry
Reporter | Dana Gentry is a native Las Vegan and award-winning investigative journalist. She is a graduate of Bishop Gorman High School and holds a Bachelor's degree in Communications from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Gentry began her career in broadcasting as an intern at Channel 8, KLAS-TV. She later became a reporter at Channel 8, working with Las Vegas TV news legends Bob Stoldal and the late Ned Day. Gentry left her reporting job in 1985 to focus on motherhood. She returned to TV news in 2001 to launch "Face to Face with Jon Ralston" and the weekly business programs In Business Las Vegas and Vegas Inc, which she co-anchored with Jeff Gillan. Dana is the mother of four adult children, three cats, three dogs and a cockatoo.