Members of Nevada’s new Cannabis Compliance Board listened to more than an hour of public comment, most of it urging them not to approve a partial settlement in massive litigation against the state’s previous marijuana regulators, before voting unanimously to approve it.
A trial on allegations the state unfairly awarded multiple licenses to a handful of applicants is expected to conclude by mid month.
“This is a very unusual circumstance,” observed CCB member Dennis Neilander, the former chairman of the Nevada Gaming Control Board.
“As a new board, we’re trying to get a fresh start and I think we’ve done that,” Neilander said, citing new regulations passed by the CCB. “At the same time we’ve inherited these legacy issues. There were significant issues that led to this litigation.”
“To be clear, the CCB did not initiate this settlement,” chairman Michael Douglas noted. The former Nevada Supreme Court justice bristled at the suggestion during public comment that the CCB was “a rubber stamp.”
“This board understands its charge,” Douglas said.
Deputy Attorney General Steve Shevorsky said the board’s approval of the settlement does not guarantee individual licensees’ approval before the board.
“In no way will the (settling) parties get favorable treatment,” he said.
Shevorsky said the “settlement has received scrutiny unlike any in my career.”
It’s unknown why the AG’s office took a position on the settlement since it does not eliminate the litigation against the Department of Taxation. The AG’s office declined to discuss the case.
Neilander asked Shevorsky if Clark County Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez, who is presiding over a massive trial involving the awarding of multiple cannabis licenses to a handful of applicants, will be taking legal steps “agreeing the settlement is appropriate and not in violation of state laws?”
Shevorsky said Gonzalez has stated it’s not appropriate for her to approve the settlement.
“The industry cannot grow and mature when this type of litigation is prohibiting things from going forward,” Neilander said before making a motion to approve the settlement provisions that apply to the CCB.
Neilander added state workers have dedicated time to the litigation and that the partial settlement “will free up their time so we can do the things we should be doing as regulators.”