Image of Leslie Bocskor, advocate for the expansion of the legal cannabis industry in the United States.
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As an investment banker, entrepreneur, founder of the Electrum Partners consulting firm and chairman of the Nevada Cannabis Industry Association, Leslie Bocskor has carved out a niche for himself as an advocate for the expansion of the legal cannabis industry in the United States.
The New York native moved to Nevada to research the gaming industry, but soon realized the potential of Nevada’s legal marijuana movement and switched his focus to cannabis legalization and regulation. He spoke to WeedWorthy by phone from his Las Vegas office. 
 
Why has cannabis legalization become a major political and economic issue in Nevada?
Nevada had finally woken up to the fact that taxing and regulating the cannabis industry would not be that different from regulating gaming or any of the other industries that they had sought to regulate, that might be illegal in other jurisdictions. 
 
Nevada voters approved medical marijuana in 2000, but the state didn’t have regulations for medical cannabis in place until last year. When are the state’s medical marijuana dispensaries scheduled to open?
There are dispensaries authorized to open right now. The cultivators are busy trying to get the plants ready for the first harvest. We’re hopeful that the first day of official sales on a widespread basis in Nevada is going to be July Fourth, Independence Day, 2015.
 
Nevada plans to honor medical marijuana cards from outside the state. Why is that?
We are the only state to have full reciprocity. If you have a medical marijuana recommendation from any other jurisdiction, whether it’s Israel, Canada, Michigan, Colorado, Washington, wherever, you can come use that recommendation to be a customer at a dispensary in Nevada.  
 
Whereas we would otherwise have to look at our own (current) patient base of 11,000 and say that’s a fairly small patient base, now there are two million-plus patients (in the U.S.) as other states implement medical marijuana programs and expand their medical marijuana programs. So there is an opportunity for every one of those patients to travel here.
 
What’s the pushback been like? What are cannabis opponents in Nevada saying?
Interestingly enough, some of the people that were oppositional to this, some of the state legislators, recently travelled to the good state of Colorado. And they came back saying ‘you know, this looks like this it’s going to be good for Nevada.’ And there’s been a tremendous change of heart, which we have to credit with their visit to Colorado. So we have seen a shift, from people that previously were against to people who are for it now. 
 
Another good example is our (Republican) Congressman Joe Heck: an Army general and a doctor. He had not been a supporter of legal cannabis in any form. And if I understand correctly, he was just one of the co-sponsors of (Democratic Representative from Oregon) Earl Blumenauer’s bill, that unfortunately lost in the House of Representatives – that got voted down, 213 to 210, but how close was that? That was to allow for the VA to discuss medical marijuana with veterans in states that have medical marijuana and recreational marijuana programs. We were very, very pleased that he was a co-sponsor of that effort.
 
Up Next: What will 2016 bring for the legalization movement?
 
Click Here to read Part 2
 
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