- Associated Press - Wednesday, June 4, 2014

LAS VEGAS (AP) - Applicants have donated tens of thousands of dollars to the campaigns of elected officials who will decide who gets a limited number of licenses to grow, process and dispense medical marijuana in Nevada’s most populous county.

Donations began rolling in days after the seven-member Clark County Commission decided March 5 to allow medicinal pot businesses, the Las Vegas Sun reported Wednesday (http://bit.ly/1hyRCnb ).

The powerful commission that administers the Las Vegas Strip and unincorporated county areas began three days of public hearings in Las Vegas on Wednesday to decide which of 81 applicants will get 18 county dispensary licenses. The industry is expected to be worth tens of millions of dollars.

The newspaper reviewed campaign reports for Susan Brager, Chris Giunchigliani and Mary Beth Scow, the three commissioners currently required to disclose contributions because they face re-election.

It found that 14 county medical marijuana permit applicants made 22 contributions totaling $56,900.

The other four commissioners - Steve Sisolak, Larry Brown, Tom Collins and Lawrence Weekly - don’t have to disclose their contributions until January.

Brager, Giunchigliani and Scow also received $45,500 in contributions from 12 law firms, the Sun found.

Law firms aren’t required to publicly disclose the names of clients seeking permits. Most southern Nevada law offices have one or more clients seeking medical marijuana licenses.

Scow and Brager each returned a $1,000 contribution from one company that is applying for a license. Both commissioners said they didn’t want to accept money from a company named as an applicant.

Brager said accepting donations from people with investments in medical marijuana businesses wouldn’t affect her decision on applications.

Scow said she planned to disclose donations during licensing hearings.

Giunchigliani said she told several donors to wait to make contributions.

“After we make the decision, if they still agree with my positions, then fine,” she said. “They’re not buying any access or a vote or anything along those lines.”

Political contributions from medical marijuana investors or businesses ranged from $50 to $5,000.

State law caps contributions from specific people or businesses at $10,000 per candidate per four-year term.

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