A lot of Nevadans have been looking forward to the creation of job opportunities provided by the newly-opened commercial cannabis industry. Many people interested in these opportunities have been patients, activists and advocates in the industry for many years. Unfortunately, some of the most dedicated supporters of cannabis reform have a criminal history that may preclude them from working in the very industry they advocated to create.

Nevada law is crystal clear, all persons working in the Nevada cannabis industry, whether an owner, officer, board member, employee or volunteer, must undergo a thorough criminal background check prior to beginning employment at a medical marijuana establishment (MME). NRS 453A.322 prohibits persons who have been convicted of an “excluded felony offense” from working in a medical marijuana establishment.

NRS 453A.ı04 defines an excluded felony offense as a “crime of violence” or a violation of state or federal law pertaining to controlled substances, if the law was punishable as a felony in the jurisdiction where the person was convicted. NRS 453A.053 defines a crime of violence as any felony involving: ı) the use or threatened use of force or violence against the person or property of another; or 2) for which there is a substantial risk that force or violence may be used against the person or property or another in the commission of the felony.

Excluded felony offense does not include offenses for which the sentence, including all periods of incarceration or supervised release, was completed more than ten years before; or an offense involving conduct that would be immune from prosecution or penalty pursuant to NRS 453A.320 to NRS 453A.370 except that the conduct occurred before April ı, 20ı4 or was prosecuted by an authority other than the State of Nevada.

Based on the foregoing, any person who has been convicted of a felony crime of violence or a crime involving drugs (including cannabis) that could have been charged as a felony will be prohibited from working in the cannabis industry unless a few exceptions apply, including; ı) the sentence was completed more than ten years ago; or 2) the activities causing the conviction would have been permissible under Nevada’s current MME laws.

These exceptions can be fairly convoluted and subject to some interpretation. If you have any questions regarding your eligibility to work in the cannabis industry, you should consult with a qualified Nevada attorney.