The newly created Nevada Cannabis Compliance Board (“NCCB”) is charged with overseeing all disciplinary proceedings governed by Nevada Revised Statutes 678A.500 to 678A.640. This article discusses the NCCB regulations that govern the disciplinary process.
RIGHT TO INVESTIGATE:
Under the Regulations of the NCCB, the NCCB has the authority to conduct inspections and investigations. The submission of an application for a license for a cannabis establishment constitutes permission for entry to and reasonable inspection of the cannabis establishment by the NCCB and its agents, with or without notice. Upon receipt of a complaint against a cannabis establishment the NCCB may conduct an investigation during the operating hours of the cannabis establishment. NCCB agents may also enter and inspect any building or premises at least annually to secure compliance with any provision of the NCCR or Title 56 of Nevada Revised Statutes. NCCB agents are also allowed to inspect any building or premises operated by a cannabis establishment within 72 hours after the NCCB is notified that the cannabis establishment is operating without a license for the cannabis establishment.
If the NCCB finds sufficient grounds to establish a violation of NCCB regulations, a Complaint will be issued and served in accordance with NRS 678A.520(1), which provides for personal service or service by certified mail. The Complaint will identify the date of the alleged violation or the date that the violation was identified, the location where the violation occurred, the regulation or statute that was violated, a description of the violation, and the amount of the civil penalty that the NCCB may impose.
Parties to a proceeding before the NCCB may appear personally or through an attorney. Because the potential penalties imposed by the NCCB can be quite severe, it is highly recommended that an attorney be retained. Whether or not an attorney is retained, all parties must personally attend any hearing, unless attendance has been waived by the NCCB.
It is important that an attorney be retained because there are many time sensitive actions that must be taken. When a party is represented by an attorney, service of all notices, motions, orders, decisions, and other papers will be made upon the attorney. The attorney will sign all motions, oppositions, notices, requests, and other papers on behalf of the party, including requests for subpoenas.
Within 10 days after the respondent (licensee or agent registration cardholder) answers the complaint and demands a hearing, or if the NCCB orders a hearing even if the respondent waives his or her right to a hearing, the parties will hold an early case conference at which the parties and a hearing officer must preside. The parties will set the earliest possible hearing date not later than 45 days after the respondent’s answer. The parties will also set the dates by which all documents must be exchanged, by which witness lists must be exchanged, by which all prehearing motions and responses must be filed, and for any foreseeable actions that may be required.
The parties will be required to discuss or attempt to resolve any portion of evidentiary or legal issues involved. The parties are expected to discuss the potential for settlement of the matter on terms agreeable to the parties and discuss any other issues that may facilitate the timely and fair conduct of the matter.
Within 20 days after the service of the answer by the first answering respondent, the parties shall confer for the purpose of exchanging copies of all documents and other evidence then reasonably available to a party which are intended to be offered as evidence in support of the party’s case in chief. The parties are expected to exchange lists of witnesses and a description of the purpose for which the witness will be called.
Unlike a civil lawsuit, the investigative file for a case is not discoverable unless the NCCB attorney intends to present materials from the investigative file as evidence in support of the case. The investigative file for the case includes all communications, records, affidavits or reports acquired or created as part of the investigation of the case, whether or not acquired through a subpoena related to the investigation of a person. Discovery of the investigative file is limited to solely those documents the NCCB counsel intends to use as evidence in support of its case, as disclosed prior to the hearing. A party is also not allowed to serve written discovery, including interrogatories, requests for production, requests for admissions or depositions by written questions.
However, a party may take the deposition of a material witness if they submit a written request at the early case conference. The request to take a deposition must set forth the reason why the deposition is necessary and must be accompanied by a proposed order. The hearing office or panel shall approve or deny the request within 5 days.
A formal hearing must be held at the time and date set at the early case conference. The hearing may be conducted by the full Cannabis Compliance Board, a hearing officer, or a panel of three members of the NCCB. If the hearing is held before a hearing officer or panel of the NCCB, the hearing officer or panel shall issue findings of fact and conclusions of law for the full board’s review pursuant to NCCR 4.135(1).
The outcome of the hearing will be determined by the NCCB. At least three members of the NCCB will review the full transcript of the hearing or the recording of the hearing. The NCCB will consider the findings of fact and conclusions of law and the disciplinary recommendations of the attorney for the NCCB. The NCCB is also expected to consider the recommendations of the attorney for the respondence licensee. The NCCB will deliberate and, if the NCCB finds a violation has occurred, may by a majority vote impose discipline. After 30 days, the order that imposes discipline and the findings of fact and conclusions of law become public record.
The process of enforcement of the Cannabis Compliance Regulations is time sensitive and very similar to judicial proceedings. The Wright Law Group, P.C. has more than 28 years of experience defending licensees in administrative procedures and is well equipped to assist you in handling your case. If you have been served with a complaint or need representation before the Cannabis Compliance Board please call us at 702-405-0001 to schedule a consultation or email us.