The Ely Times

The Ely Shoshone Tribe is going to attempt once again to approach the Ely City Council with a deal. The agenda item for this week’s meeting is a discussion for possible action to direct city officials to negotiate with the Ely Shoshone Tribal officials regarding terms for a marijuana dispensary compact between the two entities.

This is a routine the tribe knows all to well. In 2017, the tribe went before the council several times to approach the council with the idea of entering into a compact.

June of 2017 was the first time, when councilman Bruce Setterstrom at the time noted that there were other businesses interested in applying for a license in Ely.  The agenda item was tabled.

The Tribe returned on Sept. 14 to request once again to enter into a Interstate Compact with the Ely Shoshone Tribe and City of Ely. With many questions by the council members, the agenda item was tabled once again.

Two weeks later, Sept. 28, Joe Dice, Tribal lobbyist and Cassandra Dittus, co-founder and president of Tribal Cannabis Consulting returned to the city council, with hopes that the council would finally agree to enter into the compact.

More than an hour of discussions went on regarding logistics of the length of agreement, locations and how it would it benefit the city.

Councilman Tony DeFelice made a motion to enter into the compact and Jolene Gardner,  DeFelice and Sam Hanson voted for it, and Carson and Ernest Flangas voting against it.

Days later, the mayor vetoed the vote, citing that entering into a contract like this would provide a monopoly for one company for five years. And, one major decision for the mayor was the concern of the federal government coming in and shutting down the business.

Although the sale of marijuana is legal in Nevada, it is still illegal federally.

Although the tribe has been pushed aside by the city council, they have been moving forward with even more projects including the most recent to build and manufacture infused products in Ely at a products facility.

This is the next step in the cannabis business for the tribe. The facility will make cannabis based infused medicines to be sold both locally and across the state of Nevada..

Products such as pain creams, balms, and medicines used for ailments from cancer, seizures, to chronic pain relief are what will be manufactured.

Pat Pen is a national brand assisting with licensing agreements that are manufacturing products across many states in the legal cannabis market.

The new facility will employ between 7-10 people depending upon production demands. This will bring the total number of Ely residents employed by Tsaa Nesunkwa dispensary between 20-23.

Dice noted that Pat Pen co-founder Randy Russell believed working with the Ely Tribe was an easy decision to make.

Dice notes the tribe’s program is not like most cannabis programs with a few wealthy owners, it is owned by the community. Both tribal members and city residents are working in the cultivation facility as well as the store. The revenues are impacting the entire community, not just a select few.

Cassandra Dittus, president of TCC, a cannabis consulting firm helped broker the deal.

“We expect this program to be extremely successful for the Ely Shoshone Tribe, the City of Ely, as well as the residents employed by the programs,” she said.

Dittus believes with the tribal government working with the city government, the program will expand to near 30 employees by next year.

“It will generate enough tax revenue to bolster both governments operating capital beyond what either has had the luxury of in many years.” Dittus said.

Currently, the tribe shares tax revenue only on the cultivation facility. The new compact would allow the city to receive tax revenue and fees from the tribe’s other cannabis ventures.

It is estimated to be worth between $190,000 to $250,000 a year just to the City of Ely, as well as the more than 30 jobs for the residents of Ely and White Pine County. This figure is based upon the offer made by the tribe at current sales figures.

It does not take into account the new, larger cultivation facility slated for early 2019.

“It is extremely clear the tribe’s business is a success. It’s a model of the future of the cannabis business where it generates money to fund essential government services and social programs. A stark change from the old model where it just keeps the money in the pockets of the wealthy.” said chairwoman Diana Buckner of the Ely Shoshone Tribe.

If the city again fails to compact with the tribe’s retail facility, the tribe will not compact the future cultivation and infusion center. Total lost to date by the Mayor vetoing the decision is  $156,600 in first eight months.

“The city will go from partner to competition,” said Tribal lobbyist Joseph Dice. “Imagine there’s one McDonalds in town, and they offered to share the taxes with the city to the tune of $200,000. But instead, the city decides to just open another McDonalds to compete against the first McDonalds. You’re not going to sell more Big Macs. Everyone loses.”