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Taxation Department executive who played key role in marijuana licensing process is no longer with agency

Jackie Valley
Jackie Valley
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Marijuana displayed inside Inyo Fine Cannabis Dispensary

Jorge Pupo, who oversaw a recent round of marijuana dispensary licensing that came under fire for being unfair, is no longer with the Nevada Department of Taxation, officials confirmed Tuesday.

Taxation officials said they couldn’t comment further, but the move comes several weeks after the agency placed him on leave. It's unclear whether he resigned or was terminated.

Pupo’s name came up frequently this summer during a court hearing involving a dispute between marijuana companies and the state. Ultimately, Clark County District Court Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez issued a partial injunction and cited numerous flaws in the state’s application-vetting process. Her decision prevented some dispensaries from taking the final steps toward opening.

Shortly after her ruling, marijuana companies that didn’t receive a dispensary permit filed an amended lawsuit, which requests that the entire application review and licensing round be redone. The lawsuit prominently featured Pupo, alleging that he was too cozy with representatives of marijuana companies and even offered jobs by executives at certain companies.

Pupo has denied engaging in unfair practices and receiving job offers — instead saying executives casually mentioned he should call them if he ever left his state gig. 

The ongoing drama over the licensing process speaks to the lucrative nature of the industry. Winning a dispensary license in the competitive application process puts those companies at a distinct advantage with a retail storefront. The taxation department received more than 450 applications for dispensaries, but only 61 conditional licenses were distributed among 17 different companies.

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