Ely Shoshone Tribal Council members prepare to perform the ribbon cutting: pictured from left to right Tabatha Lowman with the Boys & Girls Club, Ely Shoshone councilman, Trent Griffith, Joseph Dice, Tribal Cannabis Consulting, Chairman of the council, Victor McQueen Jr., coucilman Brent Stark, councilman Hawk Dumont, and Cassandra Dittus, Co-Founder and President of Tribal Cannabis Consulting.

TSAA Nesunkwa, the new marijuana dispensary, held its grand opening this last Saturday and received an overwhelming response by locals in White Pine County.

The dispensary is located on Ely Shoshone Tribal land.

A ribbon cutting was performed by former Chairman of the Ely Shoshone council Alvin Marques and current Chairman Victor McQueen. Marques was the chairman that spearheaded the program and McQueen has carried it through to fruition.

Among guests at Saturday’s grand opening included Ely Mayor Melody VanCamp, who reportedly told staff she was very impressed. The tribe is hoping that this is the beginning of future economic development throughout the community within the City of Ely.

Although the soft opening was several weeks ago and several hundred people had already come through at that time,  approximately 350 more people came through the doors on Saturday to check out the establishment.

Cassandra Dittus, co-founder and president of Tribal Cannabis Consulting, said when they first opened, they predominantly opened to provide a service to medical marijuana clientele, but quickly noticed that with the nearest dispensary being 4-5 hours away, there was a significant need for this type of business in the community.

The Ely Shoshone Tribe and the Yerington Paiute Tribe are the first to enter into marijuana compacts in the state. The agreements were made possible under  Senate Bill 375, which became law when Governor Brian Sandoval signed the bill into law in June 2017.

Senate Bill 375 recognizes the authority of tribes to grow, sell and market marijuana in a state where the drug is legal for medicinal and recreational purposes. Compacts, while not necessary, are encouraged to address law enforcement, jurisdiction and other issues.

A similar model first emerged in Washington in 2015.  Since then, a handful of tribes have successfully entered the marijuana market and several more are interested.

It’s also big business. Tribes in Nevada are sensing similar opportunities for their communities. According to Nevada Tribal Cannabis Alliance, which lobbied for the compact bill, marijuana sales are expected to generate $7.5 billion in economic activity in the first seven years.

Dispensaries sold $27.1 million of pot in Nevada in July alone earlier this year. That was almost double what both Colorado and Oregon sold in their first months.

It’s almost seven times what Washington sold. Nevada made $10.2 million off the industry during the first month of sales in July according to the Nevada Department of Taxation.

The Ely Shoshone Tribe has developed this project and business in the interest of supporting not only their community, but the surrounding White Pine county community as well.

The tribe has chosen to help the white Pine County Boys and Girls club with a portion of the tax revenue generated from this business.

The store located at 963 S. Pioche Highway carries so many products it’s hard to catch them all in one visit.  A menu four pages long with hundreds of products listed from edibles such as gummies, candy bars, cookies, lozenges, to CBD, concentrates and other marijuana products. The staff appear to be very knowledgeable and educated in discussing with customers what might work best for them.

But don’t think you can stroll right into the building and begin shopping. Be prepared to have your I.D. ready, and no one under 21 is allowed in the store portion. The building is very secure.

Upon entering a small lobby, you must hand your I.D. to a store associate on the other side of the glass, where they check to ensure you are at least 21 years of age. Once approved, you are allowed to go back into the store portion of the establishment where the door locks behind you and you are in now an even more secured area with cameras all around the store.

Throw the stereotype card of a “weed smoker” out the window when you walk thru the doors.  Several customers from your local businessman, to rancher, or senior citizen are chatting with store associates, asking questions, to figure out what they would like to purchase.  Purchases are cash only, but no one has a problem pulling out cash for their purchase. One gentleman was spending about $180.00 on products for his elderly mother who has cancer.  The store is open from 11:00a.m. to 6:00p.m. seven days a week.