Nevada puts cannabis official on leave over licensing issues
Nevada has been doing extremely well with legal cannabis so far, but the transition has not come without its problems, either. A few weeks ago, a judge in that state shut down the licensing process because of concerns about corruption and bribery in the Department of Taxation, and now the Deputy Executive Director of that agency has been put on leave. Jorge Pupo is the director in question, and word is that the order for his leave came from the Governor’s office itself.
Pupo got his job in 2017 to oversee legal cannabis sales in the state, and testified earlier this year that he did have encounters with people who would later be applying for licenses. The judge in this case had decided that his connections (along with loose diversity requirements and improper hiring for the process) created the opportunity for would-be abuse, and and also froze the application process for further investigation. Presumably, he’s out on leave to keep him out of the office while things are figured out, and if there are issues found, he would lose his position (if not also face charges of bribery).
To be clear, Pupo hasn’t yet been accused of wrongdoing — the leave could be precautionary while the case is ongoing. But the licensing processes being put in place around the country are often complex and opaque, and certainly corruption is a possibility. Hopefully as time goes on, investigations will help uncover any crimes or bribery, and the different jurisdictions overseeing legal cannabis will come up with better and fairer ways to distribute licenses when there’s a limited number available.