Nevada State Athletic Commission board member granted marijuana permit despite Gaming Commission protest
By Zach Arnold | June 6, 2014
On March 5th, we wrote about the saga of M Resort CEO Anthony Marnell, a current board member for the Nevada State Athletic Commission. He was appointed to the NSAC by Governor Brian Sandoval. In one conflict of interest, the Athletic Commission approved future MMA dates at casino properties that Marnell is involved in.
Marnell then turned around and applied for a medical marijuana license from Clark County, Nevada when the county started testing the waters for approval of a select few permits.
Marnell was one of many major Las Vegas business players who applied for a medical marijuana license. The Nevada Gaming Commission was absolutely pissed. Marnell found himself in front of the Gaming Commission, having to explain why someone with a gaming license applied a medical marijuana permit. Marnell reportedly owns 71% of Clear River LLC, which applied for the permit. According to the Nevada Secretary of State’s web site, Marnell is/was considered an “inactive” officer. Not so much now. His partner in Clear River LLC is Robert R. Black.
Which brings us to Friday’s events where Clark County announced the winners of 18 medical marijuana permits. On the list was Clear River LLC. Anthony Marnell now has a medical marijuana permit despite the Nevada Gaming Commission telling him to back off. Marnell still is on the Nevada State Athletic Commission board. What we are now witnessing is a high-stakes, high-profile game of chicken where someone is going to blink and follow the money. Marnell being a public face of this battle is a big deal.
This situation puts the Athletic Commission and the AG’s office in a public relations pickle. Keith Kizer, who resigned as the Executive Director of the Athletic Commission, is now essentially the AC’s lawyer along with Christopher Eccles.
The timing could not be worse for the Athletic Commission. The AC has slammed fighters hard in the past who had tested positive for marijuana metabolites and yet gave out testosterone passes. Earlier this week, Joe Rogan admitted that Vitor Belfort failed an early February drug test for elevated levels of testosterone. On Friday, Belfort released documentation related to that failed drug test. The incident cost Belfort a chance to fight Chris Weidman in May for the UFC Middleweight title. However, Wanderlei Silva allegedly refused to comply with an out-of-competition NSAC drug test and won’t be fighting Chael Sonnen. The UFC, in turn, is now publicly encouraging the Athletic Commission to grant Belfort a license to fight Sonnen in July just four months after his failed out-of-competition drug test.