Most new marijuana dispensary licenses go to a handful of companies

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Marijuana companies in Nevada submitted more than 450 applications for five dozen new dispensary licenses.

More than half of the licenses went out to just a small handful of companies creating some discontent among businesses who say they were left out.

The brewing controversy has spawned a lawsuit.

The parent company of Planet 13 filed a lawsuit last week challenging the results of the state's licensing process for five dozen new dispensaries.

Nevada's coveted marijuana dispensary licenses are hard to get. There are 63 licensed dispensaries in the Silver State and state regulators have issued 61 more conditional licenses to open up more dispensaries in the next year.

Sahara Wellness owner Brenda Gunsallus landed one of them.

"We filled out applications and it's very, very thorough, all your plans and all, and it's basically what it was the first time around," said Brenda Gunsallus, co-owner, Sahara Wellness.

Tracking down who else was awarded licenses has been tough. Existing marijuana businesses applied for the new licenses and were each given a ranking, which determined who would receive a license.

The state, citing a privacy clause in a set of marijuana regulations, says the information on who applied and how they scored is confidential -- until an applicant is granted its final license.

State Senator Tick Segerblom has been the lawmaker behind constructing the state's marijuana industry over the past decade.

He says withholding most of this information runs afoul of the intent of the policy that has been developed during that time.

"We wanted to make sure that the financial information, your tax returns and stuff like that, was confidential, but we never intended to keep the name of the owner, the corporation, and the people who own it confidential and frankly the scores that you get in the process," said Segerblom.

Through a number of sources -- 8 News Now identified who received 45 of the 61 conditional licenses. One thing noticed -- just five businesses were awarded a total of 34 dispensary licenses. Five companies that received more than half of the available licenses.

8 News Now have also identified 23 existing companies that were denied licenses. One of them is Planet 13's parent company, M-M Development Company, Incorporated, which applied for six licenses for new locations across the state.

In a lawsuit filed in district court, M-M is asking a judge to intervene in the application process and for the court to review the denials.

The court has partially stepped in -- ordering the state to make copies of its servers and computers used in evaluating and rating applications and to provide lists of the temporary employees hired to help in the ranking process.

8 News Now did file a public record request a week ago to try to get a look the applications and scores generated from that process. That request is still under consideration.
 

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