Las Vegas Sun

September 21, 2017

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Funding to regulate recreational marijuana passes subcommittee

A subcommittee of 10 Nevada legislators unanimously voted today in favor of nearly $14 million in funding for 16 new state positions to help regulate the state’s recreational marijuana industry.

The joint Senate and Assembly subcommittee on general government said Gov. Brian Sandoval’s recommended $3.8 million to pay for the positions with the Nevada Department of Taxation over the next two years — including workers’ salaries, travel and office equipment costs — and an additional $10 million for local governments to “carry out the provisions” of voter-approved Ballot Question 2, was made reality by a governor-appointed task force.

“Their mission was to identify the legal and procedural issues that require resolution prior to the implementation of the act,” said Assemblywoman Heidi Swank, D-Las Vegas, who chaired the subcommittee. “They offered their suggestions and proposals.”

As much as $344,000 will also be used to enhance security at the Department of Taxation’s offices in Las Vegas, Henderson, Reno and Carson City, Swank said.

Legislators hope a projected $39.4 million in revenue from a 15 percent excise tax on wholesale recreational marijuana, defined in Ballot Question 2, and $3.2 million in additional revenue from recreational marijuana license fees will pay for the new positions and regulation enforcement. The state is charging recreational marijuana vendors $5,000 per application for a license and up to $30,000 per license.

The Department of Taxation last week finalized its approval for an early start program, allowing medical marijuana license holders in good standing to apply for temporary state licenses to sell recreational pot starting July 1. The temporary licenses will last for six months through the scheduled recreational marijuana start date of Jan. 1, per Ballot Question 2.

Deonne Contine, the Nevada Department of Taxation’s director, said today that four of the department’s 16 new employees would be in charge of inspecting recreational and medical marijuana facilities.

“We put those in there just because that was a position we could pull in,” Contine said of the new recreational inspectors. “We would anticipate that they would have similar duties as medical” inspectors.

The budget bill could be voted on during a floor session as early as next week but will likely be included as part of a larger budget bill during the last week of the legislative session.