Riana Durrett
Oct 23 2019 . 5 min read

Out with Marijuana and in with Cannabis

Out with Marijuana and in with Cannabis

New legislation creates structure similar to Nevada’s world-class gaming regulatory bodies

New legislation creates structure similar to Nevada’s world-class gaming regulatory bodies

While many Nevadans live, work, and play at casino resorts, it can be easy to take for granted Nevada’s exceptional skill at gaming regulation. Nevada has the

best gaming regulatory structure in the world, overseen by the Nevada Gaming Commission and Gaming Control Board. Inspired by this world-class regulatory body, the Nevada Legislature and Governor’s office recently worked together to lay a foundation for a similar organizational structure in cannabis regulation during the state’s 2019 Legislative Session.

The Nevada Legislature first introduced Assembly Bill (“AB”) 533 in the Assembly Judiciary Committee on May 21, 2019. The policy portion of the bill was presented by the Chair of the Committee, Assemblyman Steve Yeager; the Governor’s General Counsel, J. Brin Gibson, along with Governor’s staff; as well as the Department of Taxation’s Executive Director, Melanie Young, and Chief Deputy Executive Director, Shellie Hughes. While the budget portion of the bill was presented in another committee and received less attention overall, it is important to note this portion adds eight positions to the Marijuana Enforcement Division at the Department of Taxation.

So, beyond the budget and replacing the use of the racially-rooted word “marijuana” with “cannabis,” what does AB533 do? In short, the bill creates a Cannabis Compliance Board and Cannabis Advisory Commission. Though these bodies won’t mirror the Gaming Control Board and Gaming Commission exactly, they will both draw inspiration from gaming regulation in several important ways.

First, the Cannabis Compliance Board and Cannabis Advisory Commission are expected to focus on enforcement of the extensive regulations that govern the cannabis industry. Both are also expected to develop and maintain institutional knowledge and expertise in the cannabis industry. The Cannabis Compliance Board will also be supplied with post-certified peace officers who may conduct law enforcement functions against the illegal market in addition to their duties within the legal market. To follow are highlights of what to expect from AB533 as it is implemented:

Cannabis Compliance Board

●  5 members appointed to 4-year appointments by the Governor

●  Positions:

  ● A certified public accountant or a qualified expert in corporate finance and auditing, general

finance, or economics

  ● An expert in investigation or law enforcement

  ● A Nevada attorney with knowledge, skill and experience in regulatory compliance

  ● A person with knowledge and experience in the cannabis industry

  ● A licensed physician with experience in public health or a psychologist, clinical professional counselor, alcohol and drug abuse counselor or social worker

●  Status: Board members may not have a “pecuniary”interest in the industry, which means any economic interest

●  Authority: The Board is authorized to adopt, repeal,or change regulations and to impose disciplinary actions on licensees

Cannabis Advisory Commission

●  12 members (8 of which are appointed by the Governor) serving 2-year appointments

●  Positions:

  ● The Executive Director of the Board, who serves as the Chair of the Commission

  ● The Director of the Department of Public Safety

  ● The Attorney General

  ● The Executive Director of the Department of Taxation

●  Eight members appointed by the Governor:

 ●   A person skilled in cannabis cultivation

 ●   A person skilled in retail cannabis

 ●   A person skilled in laboratory sciences and toxicology

 ●   A person skilled in cannabis product manufacturing

 ●   A licensed physician experienced in medical use of cannabis (via practice or research) or who has experience in public health or food safety

 ●   A representative of a medical cannabis patient advocacy group

 ●   A person with criminal justice reform experience, dealing specifically with mitigation of the disproportionate impact of drug prosecutions on communities of color

 ●   A licensed Nevada attorney with experience in providing legal services to cannabis establishments or patients who engage in the use of medical cannabis

●  Status: Members are not barred from having an interest in the industry because the purpose is to have participation by industry and non-industry stakeholders

●  Authority: The Commission does not have authority to adopt regulations or impose sanctions, but rather provides recommendations to the Board


The Chair of the Commission may appoint subcommittees to review various matters. These include:

●  A subcommittee to review labeling, packaging, marketing and advertising of cannabis and cannabis products, including potency and any other issues related to the effect of cannabis on public health.

●  A subcommittee on public safety and community mitigation, which will review effects of cannabis on law enforcement, property, business and consumers.

●  A subcommittee on the cannabis industry, reviewing market stability related to cultivation, processing, manufacturing, transportation, distribution, seed-to-sale tracking, and products.

●  A subcommittee on market participation, reviewing subjects including women-owned, minority-owned, and veteran-owned businesses as well as local agriculture.

●  A subcommittee on preventing unlicensed cannabis sales.

●  A subcommittee to review the role of local governments in cannabis regulation.

Guided by the blueprint of Nevada’s Gaming Control Board, the Cannabis Compliance Board and Cannabis Advisory Commission are poised to build on the state’s existing regulatory framework for cannabis. The cannabis industry is complex and thus requires thoughtful attention and active participation by those with experience in the industry. While it may take months or even years for the Board and Commission to mature, it will be poised to become a beacon for cannabis regulation similar to Nevada’s gaming model.