Nevada judge gives OK for more retail cannabis stores to open

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More than a dozen new dispensaries could open in Nevada’s booming retail marijuana market in the coming weeks after a judge gave the go-ahead Thursday to companies that underwent background checks and won licenses.

State marijuana regulators said as many as 36 stores could open.

But lawyers for the state and companies claiming the licensing process was flawed said about 16 cannabis shops could soon join the 65 currently open statewide.

The ruling by Clark County District Court Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez softened the effect of an injunction she granted a week ago freezing the entire licensing process so regulators could identify licensees that met screening requirements when applications were submitted a year ago.

All sides expect her order to be appealed to the Nevada Supreme Court.

Meanwhile, dozens of plaintiffs who lost bids for licenses last year will head to trials before state and federal judges.

Ten lawsuits are pending.

Plaintiffs argue they were harmed because the process of ranking and choosing winners from among 462 applications was riddled with mistakes and bias.

The judge agreed in a detailed 24-page order she issued after hearing 18 days of evidence and testimony.

For example, she called a decision by regulators to delete a requirement that applicants list a physical address for a proposed dispensary “evidence of conduct that is a serious issue.”

Losing bidders wanted Gonzalez to void all 61 licenses that were approved in December.

– Associated Press and Marijuana Business Daily