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Many power players looking to break into marijuana business

Reported by: Kelsey Thomas
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Updated: 5/07/2014 9:49 am

LAS VEGAS (KSNV & MyNews3) -- Hundreds of people are hoping to cash in on southern Nevada's newest industry. Medical marijuana promises to be a million-dollar industry, and some well-connected local names are trying to get into the game.

Many of these medical marijuana business hopefuls are already familiar with the people who hand out the licenses. Do the decision makers have these power players in their back pockets?

The roster of applicants includes a retiring judge, a newspaper publisher, former state legislators, developers, and powerhouse political players. One thing is clear, it's a list packed with money, power and politics.

Beyond the glitz and gambling synonymous with the Las Vegas Strip, there’s an old saying about political and business clout in southern Nevada -- you can get all of the key decision makers in a single room.

"I think like everything else that has to do with Las Vegas, the world is going to be watching this experiment," said Las Vegas Sun Publisher Brian Greenspun. “They are going to stop watching Washington and Colorado and they're going to watch Las Vegas. We better do it right.”

Greenspun is just one of a number of political powerhouses scrambling to get their hands on a medical marijuana business license in Clark County.

“Since we have so much to lose, in terms of our image if we don't do it right,” Greenspun said. “I think the most important thing we should be looking at is whoever gets these licenses, it’s the kind of people who have a great deal to lose.”

The list of names and companies applying for licenses include those with political clout and a long list of doctors and high profile executives with ties to the casino industry.

“I see names that I also see associated with the legislature, the county commissions, people who are associated with lobbying groups, people who have the genealogy as far as political connections so that they would know what to do, when to do it and to be able to take advantage of it,” said College of Southern Nevada history professor Sondra Cosgrove.

Cosgrove says the list is indicative of a big city run by a small group of politically well-connected people.

“In order to take advantage of new things in this state, especially in southern Nevada, it's not just money that gets you access; you really got to have political connections,” Cosgrove said.

County Commissioners will hold a public meeting June 5 to review and vote on applications.

Those who get the green light will move on to the state for consideration.



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