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    Unprecedented Release of Cannabis Licensing Information

         In an ongoing effort to improve transparency in cannabis licensing and the industry, Governor Steve Sisolak and Executive Director of Taxation, Melanie Young are pleased to announce the passage of Senate Bill 32, permitting the release of details regarding who applied for licenses, who received licenses, their ranking, score and the process of issuing marijuana license. 


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

    Governor Steve Sisolak. 

    "Until now, information about marijuana applicants and licensees has been strictly confidential. This is the result of merging two statutory and regulatory structures that deal with highly sensitive information: medical marijuana, which necessarily protects patients and providers, and taxation, which protects the financial and proprietary information of Nevada’s businesses."  

     -Executive Director of Taxation Melanie Young    

     Documents released on this site include:

    • Names of current owners of cannabis establishments. 
    •  Information regarding the evaluators of the license applications. 
    •  The use of state contractors for license application evaluation. 
    •  The tools contractors used to evaluate applications.
    •  Methods contractors employed to evaluate applications.
    • Companies that applied for licenses.
    • Names of owners, officers and board members that applied. 
    • Who was awarded licenses and who was not.
    • Applicant scores.

      Open Letter from Executive Director Young

      The Department of Taxation staff is tasked with the fair and efficient collection of approximately 7 billion dollars annually. Cannabis 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 cannabis establishments. Recently, intense competition for retail licenses has led to applicants challenging the process the state has implemented to issue licenses.   

      Questions have been raised regarding the use of contractors to evaluate license applications. This process has been in place since 2015 for cannabis licensing and use of contractors is a common practice to accomplish temporary tasks efficiently for the state.  All state agencies are approved by the Department of Administration to use temporary hiring agencies including Manpower. The Marijuana Enforcement Division does not have full-time staff dedicated to application evaluation and the Division could not be expected to pull nearly a quarter of its staff from regular duties regulating the industry to evaluate applications for three months.  

      In June 2018, the Department was approved by the Interim Finance Committee to use Manpower as a vehicle for hiring qualified temporary employees to evaluate license applications. The state hired a small number of highly-qualified individuals with decades of expertise. This method translated to more consistency and efficiency in the cannabis licensing process to meet legally-mandated deadlines. Training involved weeks pouring over thousands of documents and intense one-on-one and group evaluation activities to prepare contractors for scoring applications. 

      There are many questions about the scoring tools. This is the result of Nevadans' foresight anticipating extreme demand for cannabis licenses. Nevada has a merit-based award system laid out by Nevada Revised Statutes and Nevada Administrative Code. The law requires that applicants be evaluated based on financial, building and owner information. Applications are scored and ranked accordingly. There are no provisions in the law to issue licenses to low-scoring applicants. This structure has led to a strong cannabis industry in Nevada.

      Now, under the leadership of Governor Sisolak, taxpayer confidentiality rules in Senate Bill 32 (SB32)  have been amended. That means the public can see who is operating cannabis establishments in Nevada and who applied for licenses. We hope that you will participate in this new era of transparency in Nevada's cannabis industry by taking the time to review information on this site. 

      If you have questions, please send them to:   

      Melanie Young 
      Executive Director
      Nevada Department of Taxation

        September 2018 Application Period Facts

        Nevada has a unique competitive and rigorous scoring process for licenses that is outlined by law, requiring analysis of financials, business plans and qualifications of the applicants. By law, the highest scoring applicants are awarded a conditional licenses.

        Retail Dispensary licenses Available:  64
        Application period:  10 days
        Evaluation & scoring period:  90 days
        Number of applications received: 462
        Number of applicants: 127
        Number of jurisdictions: 17
        Number of applicants awarded licenses:  17
        Number of conditional licenses awarded: 61
        Awardees with diversity in ownership, officers or board members 59%
        Awardees that didn't previously have a dispensary 53%

          Sept. 2018 Application Evaluator Qualifications

          The Department of Taxation was approved to identify, hire and train highly qualified temporary contractors to evaluate and score applications. The contractors were housed at the Carson City Department of Taxation Office under the supervision of Marijuana Enforcement Division staff. The contractors' qualifications are outlined below.

          Sept. 2018 Application Period Transparency

          Was diversity considered in the application process?

          Yes. On the right-hand column of this screen, see page 5 of the "Application Scoring Tool - Organizational Structure."

          Why did 17 applicants win all of the 61 licenses?  

          Because of intense competition for licenses, Nevada law & regulations require a competitive scoring process for licenses. Applicants were scored on 6 categories outlined in the law including: Financial Resources; Organizational Structure; Impact on the Community; Building Plans, Size and Adequacy; Care, Quality and Safekeeping of cannabis; and Taxes and Financial Contributions. The applicants with the highest score in those areas are awarded licenses by law. Applicants were aware of the competitive award process. 127 cannabis license applicants submitted an average of 3 applications each totaling 462 applications. There is no provision in Nevada law to award licenses to low-scoring applicants. 
          Why were temporary contractors used to evaluate applications?  

          State agencies use qualified contractors on a daily basis to efficiently complete temporary tasks. Contractors are approved for use by the Nevada System of Higher Education, the Court System, The Legislative Counsel Bureau and all Political Subdivisions within the State. That includes the Department of Taxation. Similar to all other contract work in other state departments, the Marijuana Enforcement Division identified, hired and trained highly-qualified contract employees to score applications and administrative assistants to provide support. 

          How were the application reviewers “highly qualified”? 

          The Department sought contract employees with specific skills and experience that directly related to the substance of what they would be evaluating in the applications. The application evaluators met the State of Nevada job specifications for Accountants; Fire & Life Safety Inspector; Marijuana Program Inspector; Personnel Officer and Administrative Assistants. The minimum qualifications of each evaluator are listed above, including information demonstrating that candidates exceeded the qualifications. 

          Why didn’t the Department use its own employees?   

          The Marijuana Enforcement Division of the Department of Taxation does not have budgeted full-time positions dedicated to license application evaluation. Staff is dedicated to other statutory and regulation-mandated duties such as auditing, inspecting, and investigating establishments; reviewing advertising and packaging submissions; reviewing and processing ownership transfers; collecting taxes; and processing agent card applications and renewals. Given the volume of applications and workload the Department anticipated for this round of licensing, the Division could not divert staff away from their existing duties to focus on application review. Additionally, by using contract employees to review and score applications, the Department could ensure an objective and independent process carried out by reviewers with no pre-existing relationships to, or insider knowledge, of the applicants. 

          Why did the Department use Manpower?

          The State of Nevada has an existing contract with Manpower to hire employees to fulfill temporary needs. After Taxation staff identified and interviewed the candidates of choice, those candidates registered through Manpower, allowing the Department to hire them under the existing contract.  

          Has the state done this before? 

          Yes. During the first round of medical marijuana registration certificate applications in 2014, the Division of Public and Behavioral Health—which was the licensing and regulatory body at the time—used an employment agency contract to hire employees for reviewing applications. 

          Did the Department have to get any kind of approval to use contract employees? 

          Yes. In June of 2018, the Department appeared before the Legislative Interim Finance Committee (IFC) to seek funding approval to hire the contract employees for reviewing and scoring the applications. IFC granted that approval. 

          What kind of training did the Department provide to the application reviewers? 

          Over a two-week period, the application reviewers were trained by numerous staff from the Department of Taxation, Marijuana Enforcement Division, including the Program Manager, Program Supervisor, Education and Information Officer, Chief Compliance Officer, Program Officers, Auditors, Investigators, Inspectors and Administrative Assistants. The application reviewers were trained on the history of cannabis in the state, marijuana laws and regulations, the contents of the application, and tools for reviewing and scoring. 

          To familiarize the evaluators with the contents of applications and the process for reviewing and scoring them, evaluators reviewed and scored 10 applications from previous application periods. The applications contained hundreds of pages each. This created a mock application period for reviewing and scoring. The mock applications consisted of applications that should have resulted in low, medium, and high scores. Evaluators worked with Marijuana Enforcement Division staff to score the mock applications. By the end of the training, they were familiar with a range of application qualities, their contents, criteria, how to apply evaluation tools (score sheets) and were able to process applications independently in a timely manner.   

          What was the process the evaluators used to review and score applications? 

          Evaluators were split into two teams. One team reviewed and scored "non-identified" sections of applications (they did not know the identity of the applicants). The other team reviewed and scored the "identified" sections of the applications (the content of the section included the identity of the applicants by necessity). 

          The independence of each evaluator was a key component to maintaining the integrity of the process. Each reviewer independently reviewed each application thoroughly and came to an independent scoring conclusion.    

          During the evaluation period, the reviewers were placed in three offices: one office for the three-person Identified-Team reviewers, another office for the three-person Non-Identified Team reviewers, and a third office for the Administrative Assistants (one assistant for each team). The Identified and Non-Identified reviewers were not permitted to discuss any application details with the other team to maintain separation and confidentiality for an independent evaluation process.

          Team members individually reviewed applications, assigned scores to each criteria section, and then held a team meeting between the three reviewers on that team to see how closely their scores aligned. If scores differed in any criteria section of the application by three or more points, they were required to re-review the section and discuss until they arrived at a scoring consensus. Following the three-person evaluation team meeting, the reviewers’ scores for each criteria section of the application were averaged to score that section.   

           Scores for all criteria sections were then totaled across both the identified and non-identified sections to arrive at a total score for the entire application.  

          What criteria did the reviewers look at, and what were the point values for the criteria? 

          The following are the criteria sections that were reviewed and scored. Each section also contained a further breakdown of weighted components that made up the total possible point value for the section. These criteria sections and point values—along with the citations of administrative code for the criteria— were provided in the application. All applicants were aware of the criteria and used the criteria to preparing their applications. 250 points were possible per applications. Virtually the same scoring tool was applied in 2014. 

          Non-identified criteria (125 points): 

          Integrated plan for the care, quality, and safekeeping of marijuana from seed to sale - 40 points 

          Plan to staff, educate, and manage the proposed marijuana establishment on a daily basis - 30 points 

          Operating procedures for the electronic verification system and description of the cannabis inventory control system - 20 points 

          Adequacy of the size of the proposed cannabis establishment to serve the needs of persons who are authorized to engage in the use of cannabis - 20 points 

          Proposal demonstrating the likely impact of the establishment in the community in which it will be located and the manner in which the establishment would meet the needs of the persons who are authorized to use cannabis - 15 points 

          Identified criteria (125 points):  

          Proposed organizational structure and information concerning each owner, officer, and board member (including racial, ethnic, and gender diversity) – 60 points 

          Evidence of the amount of taxes paid or other beneficial financial contributions made to the state or its political subdivisions – 25 points 

          Financial plan and documentation – 30 points 

          Documentation from a financial institution that demonstrates the applicant has at least $250,000 in liquid assets and the source of those funds – 10 points 

          Who applied for cannabis licenses and why weren't their names public?  

          Until the passage of Senate Bill 32, information about cannabis applicants and licensees was strictly confidential. This is the result of merging two statutory and regulatory structures that deal with highly sensitive information: medical cannabis, which necessarily protects patients and providers, and taxation, which protects the financial and proprietary information of Nevada’s businesses.
          All taxpayers in Nevada are protected by confidentiality statutes. A taxpayer is defined by NRS 360.255 subsection 1: The records and files of the Department concerning the administration or collection of any tax, fee, assessment or other amount required by law to be collected are confidential and privileged. Therefore the Department is unable to disclose the name of the business that paid the marijuana license application fee. The Department requested applicants to provide a waiver permitting the release of their names, however, of the 127 applicants, only 8 returned the waiver and consented to the release of their names. The Department, in conjunction with the Office of the Governor and Legislature has amended SB32 to allow for the release of cannabis business names.

            Sept. 2018 Application Period Timeline



            June 2018

            Legislative Interim Finance Committee approves funding to hire contract employees to review and score retail marijuana store applications.

            July 5

            Notice of Intent to Accept Applications posted to Department's website

            Application posted to Department's website, including criteria categories to be scored and their respective point values.

            July - Aug.

            Identify candidates for application evaluation positions, review resumes and conduct interviews.

            Aug. 28

            Contract score reviewers' employment and orientation begins.

            Aug. 28 - Sep. 7

            Evaluator training & preparation.

            Sep. 7 - 20

            10-day period during which applicants can submit applications.

            Sep. - Nov.

            Application review and scoring.


            Verifications conducted: Points of contact, Tax Identification Numbers, ownership, jurisdictional info, agent card background checks; Executive review of rankings.

            Dec. 5, 2019

            Team meets 90-day statutorily-required deadline, issuing 462 Conditional approvals and denials issued via USPS and email.

            Jan. 9 - Mar. 5

            Staff conducts score review meetings as outlined by NAC453D.

              General Cannabis Licensing Questions

              If you have questions or would like more information, please send an email to

                Media Contact

                Eden Collings
                Public Information Officer

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                The Department has implemented a new case management system and is currently working to update its list of owners, officers, and board members. Please check back shortly.

                  Company Names & Scores by Application Period Date

                  Applicant Names by Application Period

                  September 2018 Application Period Documents