Nevada’s cannabis industry takes an important first step toward ownership and employment equity

Photo: the Ally

On Thursday February 4, Nevada Cannabis Compliance Board Executive Director Tyler Klimas gave an introductory presentation to the Assembly Committee on Judiciary. During his remarks, Klimas described how the board and staff had successfully worked through a giant backlog of unresolved regulatory details since launching in July of last year. Following the presentation, lawmakers asked questions.

“I’m curious to know what your application process was at the beginning, the diversity, if you have any data on the original applicants, what would that look like, and also diversity of the employees that are working in this industry,” asked Assemblywoman Shondra Summers-Armstrong, a Democrat from Las Vegas.

Director Klimas said the CCB recently completed the first annual demographic survey of the industry as mandated by Assembly Bill 533, which was signed into law following the 2019 legislative session. He said that collecting the race, gender, age, and education data is a critical first step in addressing issues of equity within the industry.

In order to work for or own a cannabis business in Nevada, an individual must have an agent card. The survey was sent to all active agent registration card holders as of January 1, 2021. Of the 9,890 potential respondents, 5,501 surveys were submitted within a designated two-week response period.

Owners, officers and board members reported at an almost 100 percent rate, said Klimas, so the picture of upper management and ownership makeup is clear. But the racial and gender data of agent workers is less precise, as roughly half of the state’s 10,000 agent workers responded to the survey.

The survey asked five questions:
1. What is your gender?
2. Are you of Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish origin, such as Mexican, Puerto Rican or Cuban?
3. Select your race. Select all that apply.
4. What is your age?
5. What is the highest level of education you have completed?

Gender

A 2018 Marijuana Business Daily analysis found 36.8 percent of executives in the nation’s cannabis industry were women. The Nevada survey shows 25 percent of owners are female, which is above the national percentage of all female-owned businesses of 19 percent.

Race

According to the latest Census data, approximately 18 percent of all U.S. businesses are minority-owned. African Americans own roughly 10 percent of the nation’s businesses but makeup around 13 percent of the population. In 2021, Hispanic-owned firms account for 5.8 percent of all businesses, according to Census data.

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