Powerful people, top docs vying for medical marijuana licenses - 8 News NOW

Powerful people, top docs vying for medical marijuana licenses

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LAS VEGAS -- The competition is fierce at the County Commission as nearly 90 different groups vie for 18 available medical marijuana establishment spots in Clark County.

Many of these applications are backed by local doctors and pharmacists, who say they're getting into this because they believe in the product.

Several applicants say they intend to operate their dispensary like a pharmacy or clinic. While it would not be exactly the same, many leaned on their medical expertise during the application process, hoping to get chosen.

Dr. Florence Jamison of the Silver State Health Exchange and founder of Volunteers in Medicine is trying to open a dispensary.

Dr. Nick Spirtos of Women's Cancer Center of Nevada is trying to get a license too.

Commissioners say they're not surprised the Las Vegas medical community is getting behind these dispensaries.

"It is almost an affirmation on the medical marijuana industry. That it is five years plus now, as far as experience, and this seems to be an acceptance purely from the medical community,” Commission Larry Brown said.

It is not just doctors and the medical community trying to get into the medical pot business; it is also some of the most powerful people in the Las Vegas valley.

One is Brian Greenspun, editor and publisher of the Las Vegas Sun. Greenspun says he is the controlling partner of the proposed dispensary, but has brought in a lot of out-of-state experts to advise him.

"I found that we do a much better job when go out and find people with specific expertise in all areas. That is what I did here. We don't have the expertise in this business. In order to align my interests with their interests, I gave up the equity but I did not give up the control. I am the controlling partner, I am the responsible partner," Greenspun said.

In two other applications, members of the Herbst family, who own the Terrible Herbst gas stations and casinos around the valley, are partnering with members of the O'Reilly family, who own O'Reilly Auto Parts.

One of their business partners says both families have had people with debilitating illnesses, who wanted to use medical marijuana.

"These families are motivated by the experiences they've had with their families and friends who have really needed access to this medicine,” Herbst and O’Reilly families’ partner Hugh Hempo said.

Former county commissioner Rory Reid, who is an attorney and son of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, is also representing at least three applications.

Some members of the Marnell family, who are top executives at the M Resort and developers of other major Strip resorts, are also trying to get a license.

Local attorney Ed Bernstein is also teaming up with Dr. Jamison and Janie Greenspun-Gale to run a proposed facility called La Casa Verde.

The county could decide who gets the 18 available spots as early as Friday night. However, after that decision, all of those chosen still need to be approved by the state. The state process doesn't begin until early August.

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