Journalists looking into the ownership and finances behind Nevada’s pot shops could soon run into redacted names and blacked out numbers, with legal predicate to back the omissions. A new ruling from Nevada’s highest court will allow cities to refuse to release personal information about the state’s medical marijuana business owners.
According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, the decision stems from a 2015 court case brought by the Reno Gazette-Journal against the city of Spark, a suburb of the country’s biggest little city. The newspaper was looking into the city’s medical marijuana industry, but their freedom of information request was turned over without names attached to the businesses. After a lower court ruled in favor of the journalistic pursuit, the state Supreme Court returned power back to the local municipalities, saying it was the will of the state representatives who passed medical legalization.
“The legislature intended to expand the grant of confidentiality beyond the then-existing medical marijuana-related statutes to include the identifying information of MME business license holders,” the opinion says.
In a rebuke of the ruling, Nevada Press Association director Barry Smith stressed the difficulties that journalists and the public will face investigating ties between business interests and politicians, public figures and anyone else trying to cash in on the legal weed industry.
The decision will set an interesting precedent going forward, but until this point, Spark has been an outlier in their cannabis confidentiality. In Clark County, home to Las Vegas and the state’s largest concentration of pot shops, officials turned over the names of license-holders when requested by the Review-Journal in 2014. Other localities have license information readily available on their websites.
Still, if you’re looking to open a medical marijuana dispensary without your friends, family, or journalists finding out, Spark, Nevada could be the right place to do so.