ELKO — After four months operating Newe Cannabis, the Elko Band Colony of the Te-Moak Tribe of Western Shoshone is reinvesting its profits to improve the quality of life not just for its tribal citizens, but also to provide financial savings for Elko County.
“We wish to be good neighbors to the City of Elko and to do our part in building a prosperous community with our tribal business, Newe Cannabis,” said Davis Gonzales, chairman of the Elko Band Council. “We plan to use our profits to provide critical resources and enhance the health, safety and quality of life for all.”
Newe Cannabis has identified seven key initiatives to share its prosperity: purchasing and distributing food for tribal elders; purchasing and distributing personal protection equipment for all tribal citizens; hiring an additional tribal law enforcement officer; creating 17 $5,000 college scholarships for Elko Band Colony students; buying computers for all Elko Band Colony students; purchasing internet access via hot spots for all 350 homes located on the Elko Band Council tribal lands; and assisting with tribal burial costs.
The Elko County School Board recently voted unanimously to implement only distance learning to help guard against the spread of the coronavirus. With school pushed back until Sept. 8, the Elko Band Council will purchase distance learning necessities for its students.
“As a parent of four school-aged children on the Elko Band Colony, I am extremely grateful that my tribe has reinvested in its people,” said Kaylani Stevens, a local tribal resident. “Broadband access and laptops are something I couldn’t have done on my own.”
Stevens also intends to apply for a scholarship to continue her education at Great Basin College. Stevens said that recently her cousin lost newborn twin daughters, and the Newe Cannabis Commission was able to assist with the burial expenses, which would have been overwhelming for her family during an already difficult time.
According to Gonzales, the current business plan is much different than what he and his fellow tribal leaders envisioned when they began planning to open the dispensary back in 2019.
“We have had to adapt to the COVID-19 shutdown and adjust our business model,” Gonzales said. “We have implemented extensive safety measures, including closing all in-store sales and services, with an expanded drive-through window that ensures that our carryout customers get timely, attentive service.”
“We were operating just out of the drive-through from the day we opened until about the beginning of June,” said Connor Ramsey, Newe Cannabis manager.
“We recently extended our hours,” Ramsey said. “We are now going to be open at 8 a.m., mainly because we have had people waiting out front to come in before 9 a.m.”
The drive-through is open until 10 p.m. every day and the shop stays open until 10 p.m. Thursday to Saturday. The storefront closes at 9 p.m. Sunday to Wednesday.
Medical marijuana was legalized in Nevada in 2000 by a ballot initiative, then recreational cannabis became legal in 2017, also after a public vote in 2016. In January, Gov. Steve Sisolak signed an agreement with the Elko Band Council that detailed the Tribe’s right to work with other state licensed cannabis businesses. As a result, Newe Cannabis operates with strict security laws to ensure the safe and compliant business operations for not only its 40 employees, but for its customers, too.
“Our leadership is pleased with the success of our dispensary by which we are funding new programs, especially now due to federal funding cuts and setbacks from the uncertainty of the pandemic,” said Thalia Marin, an Elko Tribal Council member. “We take pride in our healthcare and educational initiatives for our people.”