Pubdate: Tue, 09 Aug 2016
Source: Las Vegas Sun (NV)
Copyright: 2016 Las Vegas Sun, Inc
Author: Ric Anderson


As Nevada voters prepare to vote this fall on whether to 
decriminalize recreational marijuana use, they're going to hear a 
sinister-sounding warning that the push for legalization is being 
fueled by out-of-state money.

Former Assemblyman Pat Hickey, a prominent opponent of legalization, 
already sounded the alarm in a June 21 post on his blog, Soup to 
Nuts. He wrote that "the term oligarchy ('a business interest 
controlled by a small group of people') applies to the mostly 
out-of-state special interests who are responsible and largely paid 
for the pot legalization question on this November's ballot."

Hickey went on to say, "we simply don't know where much of the money 
is coming from that is financing the new marijuana industry in Nevada."

Sounds foreboding. But voters should be aware that we do know where a 
great deal of the funding is coming from - longtime Nevadans who have 
invested in the business.

In fact, when state lawmakers crafted the licensing requirements for 
operators of marijuana businesses, they took pains not to open the 
door wide to outside control of the industry.

So they included a requirement for applicants to list the amount of 
taxes they'd paid to the state over the past five years.

Applicants were given a rating based on several criteria, including 
the amount of taxes, and those who received the highest scores got licenses.

"One of the ideas was that it was to be Nevada businesspeople 
starting this new industry," said Amanda Connor, an attorney who has 
represented several marijuana businesses on regulatory and licensing 
issues. "And that has been taken seriously by the legislators and by 
the regulators who implemented the new requirements."

As a result, Connor said, "you see very prominent Nevada 
business-people getting into this industry."

That much is evident in records for the Coalition to Regulate 
Marijuana Like Alcohol, which is leading the charge to pass the 
ballot initiative. Actually, the records show that both prominent and 
lesser-known Nevada investors are behind the advocacy effort.

Campaign contribution and expense reports show that CRMLA has drawn 
66 monetary contributions for its advocacy efforts this year, with 52 
of them coming from individuals or businesses with Nevada addresses. 
And the 14 that came from out of state totaled $16,530 out of a total 
of $282,000. In other words, less than 6 percent of the total 
contributions came from addresses beyond Nevada's borders.

The majority of the campaign funding came from sources like:

Longtime Las Vegas businessman Phil Peckman, an investor in Thrive 
Cannabis Marketplace. Peckman, who gave $25,000, has been a board 
member for a number of organizations - the Las Vegas Chamber of 
Commerce, Henderson Chamber of Commerce, Boys and Girls Club 
Foundation and Nevada State College Foundation among them.

Nevada Wellness Center, a Las Vegas dispensary founded by former Las 
Vegas City Council member and NFL running back Frank Hawkins. The 
business has contributed $1,000.

CW Nevada LLC, which contributed $25,250 and is owned by a group of 
Las Vegas residents led by local attorney Brian Padgett.

Inyo Fine Cannabis Dispensary, whose owners include Las Vegas native 
and former assemblyman David Goldwater. Inyo gave $3,000 to the cause.

There are many more examples in the reports, which can be viewed 
here. More information about operations listed in those reports can 
be found in the Nevada Secretary of State's business entity records.

Granted, Nevada's marijuana industry and the decriminalization 
campaign aren't totally funded from within the state. Some of the 
contributors have formed partnerships with consultants, suppliers, 
equipment providers and others from beyond Nevada, and some of the 
donations come from operations with locations in more than one state.

But as public records suggest, those who are pushing the notion that 
Big Marijuana is running roughshod over Nevada will need to come up 
with more proof.

Editor's note: Brian Greenspun, the CEO, publisher and editor of the 
Las Vegas Sun, has an ownership interest in Essence Cannabis Dispensary.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom