Today, the Nevada Cannabis Advisory Commission (CAC) held its inaugural meeting in Las Vegas. The 12-person commission is empanelled to study cannabis-related issues and make recommendations on regulations and other matters to the Nevada Cannabis Compliance Board (CCB). Today’s meeting was in some ways a capstone of more than 20 years of cannabis rulemaking and lawmaking in Nevada.
California became the first state to enact a medical cannabis law in 1996 with Proposition 215. Oregon passed their medical cannabis law in 1998. Nevada voters first passed the Nevada Medical Marijuana Act in 1998, but in order to amend the state constitution, Question 9 had to pass a second time, which it did in 2000 by a 65% to 35% margin, and thereby, Nevada became the third state to legalize medical cannabis.
Nevada’s Question 9 provided the broad legal framework for a medical cannabis system but did not specify how medical cannabis patients would legally get their tested and taxed, plant-based medicine.
Through several sessions of the Nevada Legislature in consort with the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services, years of lawmaking and rulemaking ensued until the 2013 biennial session of the Nevada Legislature when lawmakers passed and then Governor Brian Sandoval signed, Senate Bill 374.
SB374 laid the regulatory groundwork for Nevada medical cannabis system, and after more rulemaking as mandated in the bill, Silver State Relief in Sparks, Nevada became the first medical cannabis dispensary in the state on Jul 31, 2015.
In 2016, several states to include Maine, Massachusetts, California and Nevada voted to legalize cannabis for adult use. The Nevada Department of Taxation was tasked with establishing a regulatory system for the adult use cannabis industry, which it successfully did under the leadership of then Director Deonne Contine.
Relying heavily on a well-run medical cannabis program as a template, there are now 85 dispensaries in the state serving anyone over 21 and roughly 14,000 medical cannabis patients. According to state documents, the cannabis industry sold nearly $700 million worth of cannabis products in 2020.
In 2019, Assembly Bill 533 formally established the Nevada Cannabis Compliance Board (CCB), a regulatory body that now oversees the state’s medical and adult use cannabis programs. The CCB has been meeting for almost a year and has made significant progress in streamlining, unifying, and enhancing the regulation of Nevada’s medical and adult use systems.
But more needs to be done to best guide a young, fast-growing industry. To that end, AB533 also established the Cannabis Advisory Commission. Tyler Klimas is executive director of the CCB and chair of the CAC.
“The Commission was envisioned to be a body outside of regulation and enforcement of the industry, that along with strong industry expertise to perform the kind of research and analysis that will help inform regulatory decisions. The goal will be to expand the state’s knowledge base on cannabis-related issues and ensure the board and its oversight role in the industry has the tools it needs and the information that it needs to regulate the industry effectively,” Klimas said during today’s inaugural meeting of the CAC.
Even though every state in the nation, excepting Idaho, Wyoming, Kansas, Tennessee and South Carolina has some legal provision for medical cannabis, and as many as 18 states have legalized the plant and its products for adult use, Director Klimas emphasized that the federal government still lists cannabis among the most dangerous illegal drugs. Federal illegality prevents federally sponsored research, which would undoubtedly help states with its regulation, so state governments must do their own research in an effort to formulate best practices. Klimas said the expertise of the CAC is a critical component of advancing the industry, especially during its nascency.
Chair Klimas then announced the formation of subcommittees, which have CAC commissioners and other stakeholders as members.
“So these subcommittees will be where most of the groundwork for eventual Commission recommendations occur. That is the recommendations that the Commission votes to send to the CCB to consider,” Klimas said.
The four subcommittees cover key areas of the industry – Social Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, Public Health, Public Safety, and Market Stability.
The CAC will meet at least quarterly, or more frequently if needed.
Klimas told Commission members that with the passage of AB341 during the last legislative session, the regulation of cannabis consumption lounges will be a topic for every subcommittee and one of their top priorities.
Cannabis Advisory Commission Members:
Tyler Klimas, Chair, Executive Director, CCB
Aaron D. Ford, Nevada Attorney General
George Togliatti, Director, Nevada Department of Public Safety
Melanie Young, Executive Director, Department of Taxation
Appointed by Governor Sisolak (March 2021):
Dr. Benjamin Chew, District Manager, DB Labs
A’Esha Goins, Founder, Cannabis Equity and Inclusion Community Nevada
James Hammer, General Manager, Wallflower Cannabis House
Jillian Nelson, Vice President of Operations, Evergreen Organix
Michael Nikhman, Co-Owner, Nevada Group Wellness
Kema Ogden, Co-Owner, Top Notch The Health Center
Dr. Jennifer Pearson, Assistant Professor, University of Nevada, Reno
Daniel Stewart, Attorney, Hutchison & Steffen
Information on Subcommittees
Social Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion: To review and make recommendations on matters related to the accessibility for and participation of diverse owners in the cannabis industry.
A’Esha Goins, Chair
Attorney General Aaron D. Ford
Senator Dallas Harris (D – 11th District)
Tina Ulman, Chamber of Cannabis
Public Health: To review and make recommendations on matters related to the labeling, packaging, marketing, and advertising of cannabis and cannabis products, the potency of cannabis and cannabis products, and other issues related to public health.
Dr. Jennifer Pearson, Chair
Dr. Benjamin Chew
Lauren DiPrete, Southern Nevada Health District
Teresa Hayes, Nevada Department of Public and Behavioral Health
Public Safety: To review and make recommendations on matters related to the effects of cannabis on law enforcement, businesses, and consumers.
Assemblyman Steve Yeager (D – 9th District), Chair
Detective Josh Garber, Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department
Assemblyman Tom Roberts (R – 13th District)
Director George Togliatti
Executive Director Melanie Young
Market Stability: To review and make recommendations on matters related to supply and demand and overall market stability for the cannabis industry.
Daniel Stewart, Chair
Layke Martin, Nevada Dispensary Association
Sami Real, Clark County Department of Comprehensive Planning
Top image caption and credit: Cannabis concentrate, a live resin made in Nevada – photo: the Ally