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Marijuana plants grow in a climate controlled environment at the Premium Produce grow facility in Las Vegas on Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2018. (Jeff Scheid/The Nevada Independent)

Amid lawsuits over the secrecy of the state’s marijuana business licensing regime, Gov. Steve Sisolak has signed a bill that will dramatically increase the level of transparency in the process.

Sisolak signed SB32 in a ceremony at his Carson City office on Friday. It explicitly makes the names of applicants for marijuana licenses, and the mechanisms used to score their applications, public records in spite of normal taxpayer confidentiality laws.

“This new law represents an unprecedented release of marijuana licensing information in the state of Nevada, and ushers in a new era of transparency that will benefit the industry and the public,” Sisolak said, adding that he wished he could have opened up the records months ago.

Immediately upon the signing, the Nevada Department of Taxation posted a trove of more than 10,000 records on its website that shed light on the application and licensing process.

Prior to the bill signing, the taxation agency didn’t even release the business names of those that won conditional licenses, much less the names of the people behind the applications and board members of the companies who applied or won.

Numerous businesses that did not win potentially lucrative licenses in the latest round by the state have sued, arguing that the secrecy could have obscured malfeasance in the scoring process.

The department also answered questions on its website about the licensing process, including explaining why it used temporary employees to work on the application scoring and sharing evidence of their professional qualifications.

Some marijuana proprietors lauded the bill signing.

“The public should be able to see who has applied for, and who has won applications,” Andrew Jolley of Nevada Organic Remedies said in a statement. “These reviews should be transparent, which is why we support the Governor and lawmakers who passed this bill. We encourage transparency in this process.”

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