- Associated Press - Thursday, May 8, 2014

LAS VEGAS (AP) - At the height of the “Just Say No” campaign in the war on drugs, Sig Rogich was a senior adviser to Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.

Now Rogich, who runs one of the most powerful public relations firms in Nevada, is part of a team looking to snag one of Clark County’s medical marijuana licenses.

“It was 30 years ago, a lot has changed,” Rogich, 69, said of his involvement with marijuana’s staunch political opponents. “They’re legalizing it in 22 states now.”

Twelve years ago, when Nevada voters considered outright legalization of pot, Rogich said that with “the most liberal drug laws in the union, Las Vegas would become an ongoing Jay Leno joke.”

Eight years ago, amid another marijuana ballot initiative, Rogich’s firm managed an anti-drug campaign.

Rogich called himself “a very, very, minority small owner” in Deep Roots Medical LLC. His partners include former casino owner Gary Primm and his son Roger Primm. Rogich’s wife, Lori, is listed as the registered agent for the company, according to the Nevada Secretary of State.

Rogich said he never opposed medical marijuana use on principle, but wouldn’t say whether he currently approves of recreational use. He acknowledges that he used the drug when he was a University of Nevada, Reno student in the 1960s, though he didn’t volunteer how often.

Rogich is one of a score of political heavyweights jostling for Nevada’s limited medical marijuana business licenses.

In a review of the 109 companies that pitched 206 proposals for medical marijuana licenses in Clark County last week, the Review-Journal found not only deep political clout, but ties to the casino industry, real estate moguls and several prominent doctors in the Las Vegas Valley.

A state law passed last year allows for as many as 40 medical marijuana business licenses in Clark County for dispensaries, production facilities, cultivation warehouses and product testing labs. Those licenses can mean big profits in a new and apparently growing industry.

In a study of legal marijuana sales across the country, San Francisco-based The Arcview Group projected the Nevada market to be worth $9.6 million in 2014.

And if Nevada follows in the footsteps of Colorado and Washington state in allowing recreational marijuana use, that market could be huge.

“There’s no way to calculate exactly what it’ll be worth, but it’ll be worth a helluva lot of money,” said state Sen. Tick Segerblom, D-Las Vegas, who authored the medical marijuana bill in the 2013 session.

James Bixler, retiring Eighth District Court judge, formed Greenleaf Dispensaries Inc. with two brothers-in-law and his friend, attorney Robert Walsh, and applied for dispensary and cultivation licenses.

He said he thought the application process would be like a lottery.

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