Now that recreational marijuana is legal in Nevada, the state’s Cannabis Compliance Board is issuing a limited number of licenses to people for the purposes of growing and selling marijuana.
However, having a criminal record can bar you from working in the marijuana industry at all. Plus if you are caught growing or selling marijuana without a license, you could face felony charges carrying hefty prison terms.
In this article, our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys discuss:
1. What is the Nevada Cannabis Compliance Board?
The Nevada Cannabis Compliance Board (“CCB“) is the state association that:
- regulates the state’s marijuana industry,
- grants marijuana establishment licenses,
- investigates complaints, and
- and imposes discipline on license-holders.
The CCB issues seven types of “cannabis establishment” licenses for:
- cultivation facilities
- product manufacturing facilities
- testing facilities/laboratories
- retail stores
- retail cannabis consumption lounges
- independent cannabis consumption lounges
The CCB is comprised of five Nevada Governor appointees:
- a certified public accountant (or someone with equivalent experience);
- someone with training and experience in law enforcement or investigation;
- a licensed attorney with experience in regulatory compliance;
- someone with experience in the cannabis industry; and
- a doctor, psychologist, clinical professional counselor, alcohol and drug counselor or social worker with experience in preventing cannabis abuse.
A quorum (at least three) of the CCB meets throughout the year, and the minutes are posted online.1
2. Can I work in Nevada’s marijuana industry if I have a criminal record?
It depends. The Nevada CCB will not grant you a cannabis agent card – which is necessary to work or volunteer in the marijuana industry – if either:
- you were convicted of a category A felony, and less than 10 years have passed since the case closed; or
- you were convicted of two (or more) felonies, and less than 10 years have passed since at least one of the cases closed.
If you are applying for an establishment license, the Nevada CCB also considers whether you are:
- a person of good character, honesty and integrity; and
- a person whose criminal record, if any, poses a threat to the public interest or enhances the dangers of unsuitable, unfair or illegal practices.
Therefore, even if more than 10 years have passed since your felony case ended, the Nevada CCB can still cite your criminal record as an indication that you lack morals or would threaten the cannabis industry.2
In practice, the CCB will probably not disqualify you for minor misdemeanors or low-level felonies.
2.1. What if my criminal record was sealed?
The CCB is still relatively new, but it appears it may be one of the few entities that has the ability to see sealed criminal records. Therefore if the CCB asks about your criminal past, it may be better to own up instead of lie and risk the CCB finding out about it on its own.
If you have a sealed record and are applying for a cannabis agent card or for an establishment license, consult with a labor law attorney about your options.
3. What is the complaint and discipline process?
If someone files a complaint against your Nevada marijuana establishment – or if the CCB learns on its own that you may be in violation of the law – the CCB Executive Director will ask the state Attorney General (AG) to investigate.
If the AG determines that you did something wrong, they will notify you personally or through certified mail. You will be given the opportunity to compose an “answer” and appear at a hearing to contest the complaint. (At least three members of the CCB must be at the hearing.)
Within 60 days of the hearing, the CCB will render a written decision. If the CCB finds that you broke any provision of NRS 678A–D or related regulations, the CCB may:
- limit your license,
- put conditions on your license,
- suspend your license, or
- revoke your license.
The CCB can also fine you a civil penalty for each regulation.
If you wish to contest the CCB’s decision, you have 20 days to file for judicial review with the local district court.3
4. What can happen if I operate a marijuana establishment in Nevada without a license?
In Nevada, you face a $50,000 civil penalty for growing, delivering, selling, or advertising marijuana or marijuana products without a current and valid CCB license. In addition, you may face criminal charges for:
- marijuana possession with intent to sell;
- cultivating marijuana;
- selling marijuana; or
- trafficking marijuana.
These are all felonies carrying heavy prison terms.4
Learn about Nevada licensing laws re.
- real estate brokers
- social workers
- NRS 678A.080; NRS 678A.360.
- NRS 678B.340; NRS 678B.200. See also Ricardo Torres-Cortez, Las Vegas OKs marijuana lounge regulations, Las Vegas Review-Journal (March 1, 2023).
- NRS 678A.500 – 678A.640.
- NRS 678A.650. NRS 453.337. NRS 453.339. NRS 453.321. NRS 453.3393.