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Later this year, medical marijuana dispensaries plan to open their doors across Nevada.
'Finally,' is the likely sentiment going through these business owners' minds, as it will be the culmination of years of legislative and bureaucratic work. Still, many people don't know exactly what medical marijuana is.
Thus formed the mission of the new magazine Elevate Nevada, which seeks to educate and reduce the stigma toward the industry, according to publisher Guy Bertuzzi.
Reducing that stigma means the magazine's credibility is on the line with regard to helping a burgeoning industry that is also toeing the line of the law.
"We're not promoting recreational aspects," Bertuzzi said. "We're promoting a cure or relief toward specific symptoms of ailments. We want to keep that image of being clean."
For its inaugural issue in May, the lead feature story focused on Kerry Simon, a celebrity chef who suffers from Multiple System Atrohpy (MSA), a rare disease that is similar to Parkinson's.
Elevate Nevada's editor in chief Beth Schwartz met with Simon and several of his caregivers to write the story of his trial and error with perscription medication, and his path that led him to medicinal marijuana.
In the story, Schwartz writes that although Simon's speech was heavily impaired, when asking him what kind of relief the medicinal marijuana Phoenix Tears had brought him, Simon immediately responded with "sleep."
The story touched a nerve with Schwartz, who said her own father died of MSA, and she wishes she could have had the access to medicinal marijuana at the time.
"It's able to help so many different conditions and diseases and ailments, that the world is our oyster as far as what we can cover," Schwartz said.
With medical marijuana dispensaries still unable to open, and marijuana still an illicit drug in the eyes of federal law enforcement, the work those are doing for medicinal cannabis can sometimes be hard to carve out.
"Some people aren't ready. It's still illegal federally and so they don't want to go on record, they don't want their stories to be told," Schwartz said.
Because maintaining a clean image is so important to the magazine, Bertuzzi said advertisements for tobacco or smoke shops or those promoting alcohol won't be accepted.
"I'm in it for the morality of it," Bertuzzi said. "I want my mom to be proud, and I want my 8- and 5-year-old sons to be proud of what I'm trying to do."
Guy Bertuzzi, publisher, Elevate Nevada
Beth Schwartz, editor-in-chief, Elevate Nevada