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December 22, 2014

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Casino operators advised to avoid medical marijuana industry

Updated Tuesday, May 6, 2014 | 11:50 a.m.

Nevada gambling regulators issued a notice Tuesday advising casino operators against investing in the state's nascent medical marijuana industry.

Gaming Control Board member Terry Johnson sent a memo reminding licensees that the state has legalized dispensaries but federal law still prohibits manufacturing and distributing marijuana.

"Unless the federal law is changed, the board does not believe investment or any other involvement in a medical marijuana facility or establishment by a person who has received a gaming approval or has applied for a gaming approval is consistent with the effective regulation of gaming," the memo said.

The involvement of casino operators in the medical marijuana industry "would tend to reflect discredit upon gaming in the state of Nevada," the meo said.

It was unclear whether the board would discipline licensees who might get involved in both industries. Officials with the Gaming Control Board were not immediately available for further comment Tuesday.

The memo came a day after Clark County officials released a list of entities seeking to open a marijuana business in their jurisdiction. Among the applicants was Clear River LLC, a company in which M Resort CEO Anthony Marnell III owns a 71 percent stake, the Las Vegas Sun reported.

M Resort spokeswoman Leslie Peterson couldn't immediately comment Tuesday on whether the board's notice would affect Marnell's involvement in Clear River.

Clark County became the first jurisdiction in southern Nevada to accept applications for marijuana-related businesses after approving regulations in March.

Nevada voters approved medical marijuana in 2000, but that law provided no legal way for patients to obtain the drug except to grow it themselves.

The Legislature passed a law last year setting up a county-by-county framework for distributing medical marijuana.

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