Nevada marijuana licensing chief placed on leave amid bias claims

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The head of Nevada’s cannabis licensing division is on leave from his job after allegations of favoritism and improper conduct arose during court hearings about the state’s retail marijuana application process.

Taxation Department spokesman Ky Plaskon on Tuesday characterized Deputy Executive Director Jorge Pupo’s administrative leave as a personnel matter, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Plaskon declined additional comment.

Dozens of bidders that didn’t win retail marijuana dispensary licenses are suing the state, claiming the application process was riddled with mistakes and bias.

The lawsuits claim Pupo and other state officials tipped the scales toward some prospective licensees.

Pupo testified the process wasn’t perfect but was impartial.

A judge last month temporarily froze store openings, then gave the go-ahead to companies that had completed full background checks before winning licenses.

Despite the legal wrangling, cannabis sales in Nevada hit $639 million in its fiscal year ended June 30, a 20% jump over sales of $530 million for the same period a year ago.

– Associated Press and Marijuana Business Daily