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. 
 
In Part 1 of this interview, Bosckor spoke to WeedWorthy about how his state had become the next big market for legal cannabis.
 

What do you anticipate next year in Nevada, regarding recreational cannabis legalization?

Nevada is the first state to officially certify a ballot initiative for 2016. 
 

Is there a lot of advertising going on in the state? A lot of campaigning, pro and con?

Not yet. We anticipate that we will probably start seeing some activity in the media sometime next year. But the overall reception of it has been incredibly positive. The people from the industry are very supportive, the people in the state are very supportive and everybody recognizes that this could easily become one of the best things to happen to Nevada, ever. 
 
I believe that Derek Peterson of Terra Tech said that the market in Nevada and Las Vegas could easily be $1.5 billion a year. And when you look at the fact that the casino industry, total, is about $12 billion a year -- and it is largely untaxed – and that the cannabis industry will likely be taxed, the cannabis industry might be one of the largest tax contributors into Nevada’s coffers in the entire state. 

What are your concerns for legal cannabis in Nevada?

My concerns are that we keep up the effort to communicate the facts about this; that we keep looking to have an honest conversation among reasonable people about the benefits and risks associated with medical and adult-use cannabis. That we recognize that many of the things that have been the cornerstone of prohibition were based upon inaccuracies. 

Will 2016 be the tipping point for the nation’s legalization of cannabis?

I think the tipping point was 2012. I think 2016 will further establish a sense of inevitability about the drop of (cannabis) prohibition on a federal basis. We had in a mid-term election (in 2014), which is not historically a good election for cannabis and similar types of issues, because the voters that typically turn out in mid-terms are older voters or more conservative voters. 
 
Presidential elections are where we often see younger voters, who are more liberal. And we also see the millennial voters. Even in the Republican Party, millennial Republicans are I think 60 percent in favor of recreational legalization of cannabis. So the fact that Oregon, Alaska and D.C. all passed during a mid-term was very telling. When you look at that and say that’s what happened in a midterm, in a presidential election we’re likely to see every state that is going to be up for a ballot initiative pass.
 
So you have four states and one special jurisdiction (currently with legal recreational cannabis for adults). And then there’s another five…in 2016.That means 20 percent of the United States (would have) full, adult use. And there will be some 20 to 30 states by that point that have medical. 
 
At that point, it will seem that the entire idea of prohibition is so thin that the bipartisan support that already exists for moving past this prohibition and into a regulated approach to cannabis…will go from being an idea to being a reality. We anticipate the drop of federal prohibition in 2020-2022.
 
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