$1.5 million OK’d in more staff for Nevada’s blooming pot industry
CARSON CITY, Nev. — After being told the state’s medical/recreational marijuana program is growing far faster than expected, the Interim Finance Committee on June 20 approved adding $1.5 million to the Department of Taxation budget to add more security guards, convert eight temporary posts to permanent jobs, and add another eight posts to handle such things as processing more agent cards and expanded licensing for cannabis facilities this summer.
The only part of the request lawmakers denied was the $386,000 to hire a consultant to clean up regulations after Assemblyman Mike Sprinkle, D-Sparks, said he thinks they have the expertise in-house to do that job.
Taxation Director Bill Anderson told IFC members the state now has 116 licensed cultivators, 80 producers and 61 dispensaries in Nevada. He said by the end of the third quarter of this fiscal year, the state had essentially raised all of the $50 million in taxes it projected to raise the entire year.
“It’s pretty obvious things have gotten off to a stronger start than what was anticipated,” he said. “We’ve collected 97 percent of the taxes we thought we would collect for the entire year.”
As of now, Anderson said there are 554 licensees in Nevada.
As a result, he said the workload is severely straining the existing staff and they just need more bodies to manage the medical marijuana and recreational marijuana programs. The work programs also pay for videoconferencing equipment, a case management system and new equipment including printers.
Anderson added since they’re opening the door this summer for licensed medical establishments to get recreational licenses, they expect up to 170 applications this year.
Contrary to concerns by more than one lawmaker the money was hurting the General Fund, Anderson advised them none of the money is coming from the General Fund.
“We’re completely funded by marijuana taxes and license fees,” he said.
To qualify, an applicant’s ranch or farm must have belonged to his or her family for at least 100 years and must be a working ranch or farm with a minimum of 160 acres. Operations with fewer than 160 acres must have gross yearly sales of at least $1,000.