Nevada governor to ramp up restrictions for legal cannabis marketplace


Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

On Friday, October 11, Democratic Governor Steve Sisolak of Nevada revealed that he would be enforcing tighter regulations for the state’s budding legal cannabis market.

The news comes following reports of foreign national funneling donations towards the election of two political candidates in 2018. Both candidates have been accused of accepting foreign contributions as a means of sidestepping federal rules for opening a legal pot shop.

According to Sisolak, the incident occurred due to a serious “lack of oversight and inaction” for Nevada’s medical and recreational cannabis markets; a duty that should have been dealt with by the Marijuana Enforcement Division

In an attempt to “root out potential corruption or criminal influences in Nevada’s [cannabis] marketplace,” a multi-agency team will be assigned to oversee any gaps in the market.

Allegations were publicly aired against Ukrainian-born U.S. citizen Igor Fruman on Thursday, October 10. The man – who is said to have Russian connections – has been accused of funding two Republican campaigns with $10,000; one campaign was for Adam Laxalt to become the next Governor of Nevada and the other for Wesley Duncan to be elected as attorney general.

The formal accusation involved a conspiracy charge that was brought against four men, two of which were said to be closely connected with the personal attorney of President Trump, Rudy Giuliani. Moreover, the indicted were said to be associated with the Trump impeachment probe.

“[Thursday’s] indictments and their connections to Nevada, in combination with ongoing issues in Nevada’s legalized marijuana industry – such as illegal sales to minors, serious allegations of manipulated lab results, and a licensing process mired in litigation – have led the Governor to expedite regulatory and enforcement measures,”  Ryan McInerney, a spokesman for Nevada’s governor, said in a statement.

Top state political candidates will return election donations

Reportedly, Laxalt and Duncan will give their donations back. The donations were bestowed upon them prior to the November 2018 election commencing. Fruman was the man responsible for donating the funds; federal prosecutors say that he donated the money on behalf of a foreign national who has not been named.

“[It is] absurd that the governor is trying to pin this on me,” Laxalt’s spokesman Robert Uithoven said on his behalf in a recent statement made to the Associated Press.

Nevada’s governor was even accused by Laxalt of not dealing with the problem during his time in office. Laxalt says Sisolak is at fault for accepting campaign funds from cannabis businesses.

“Illegal sales to minors, serious allegations of manipulated lab results and a licensing process mired in litigation,” claims Sisolak, who is adamant that Laxalt and Duncan have broken the rules.

Nevada governor’s ruling will go into effect immediately

Prior to the federal indictment that saw two politicians accused of having their campaigns influenced by a Ukrainian-born U.S. citizen, Gov. Sisolak says that his office has long-been contemplating expedited enforcement. 

“Effective immediately, any [cannabis] entity – licensed or unlicensed – that violates the law will see swift and severe criminal and regulatory action,” read Sisolak’s statement.

The governor says he feels let down by the MED’s failure to conduct proper oversight. He blames this “critical juncture” on the state’s lack of action.

“[The] apparent absence of a single criminal referral by the Marijuana Enforcement Division since the inception of licensed [cannabis] sales, medical or recreational, in Nevada,” is what Sisolak attributed the incident to.

Governor of Nevada plans to weed out potential corruption

Following the announcement that two politicians skirted around federal cannabis industry rules, the governor said he will focus on establishing better oversight with a soon-to-be-launched Cannabis Compliance Board. 

An assigned task force will be responsible for eliminating the risks of criminal influence and corruption in Nevada’s legal cannabis marketplace. The board, Sisolak says, will be “robust, real, significant and substantial, and will have power and authority to hold bad actors accountable,” 

In an official statement, the governor explained that the board will investigate all matters relating to regulatory misconduct, possible criminal activities, and any other incidents that may require federal action. He did not, however, reveal exactly what strategy the task would be implemented to conduct such a colossal task.