Nevada: Cannabis businesses say they are frustrated by $111-per-hour bills for state regulator tasks

The Nevada Independent is reporting that business are sick and tired of forking out cash to the regulators. It appears the NV Cannabis Compliance Board is beginning to get the message…


Steve Cantwell has been cultivating cannabis for the past seven years through Green Life Productions, his Pahrump-based farm, and had no problems with state regulators when Nevada’s health and taxation departments oversaw the industry.

But that all changed when the Cannabis Compliance Board took over two years ago. At a recent routine visit, Cantwell said, the inspector raised a litany of concerns about the company’s organic growing methods, kicking off an ongoing tug-of-war that’s forced the company to pay nearly $30,000 for regulators to carry out their oversight duties.

“He came in … really just guns a blazing,” he said. “They told us everything that we were doing, literally everything we were doing, was wrong, which was a huge surprise to us.”

Cantwell and his wife have been receiving monthly invoices from the agency, including some billing them for 75 hours of state worker research time, at a cost of $111 an hour. Because the situation is unresolved, they don’t know how many more months of bills are in the future, or if the agency will tack on a hefty fine at the end of the research process.

But he and his wife pay all the so-called “time and effort” charges in full, he said. They need to renew their license, after all, and new regulations carry the business-killing penalty of license revocation for companies that don’t stay current.

Time and effort charges have rankled members of the industry and surfaced as a sore spot in numerous recent meetings of the Cannabis Compliance Board. Copies of time and effort invoices reviewed by The Nevada Independent generally show short descriptions such as “routine audit … work ongoing” or “spot check” on line items that can be hundreds or thousands of dollars.

Cantwell said a recent meeting he had with agency representatives to seek more detailed itemization of the bills did not go well.

But there are some signs of relief — the board issued a memo to licensees on Friday indicating it will reduce charges for some of the most scrutinized fees. It is cutting in half the amount it charges to have agents travel to and from cannabis businesses (the previous charge was $111 an hour per person for travel time), and it is eliminating hourly charges for “general correspondence from cannabis establishments resulting in follow up from CCB agents not related to ongoing audits, inspections, investigations or approvals.”

Read the full report

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