Cannabis Dispensary Set to Open in Jackpot, Nevada

Audio: a conversation with Mitch Britten, operating partner of Thrive Cannabis Marketplace

Photo: The Ally

Jackpot, Nevada is almost on the very northeastern corner of the state, some 70 miles north of Wells. As the name implies, casinos have traditionally sustained the economy of Jackpot, and the business closures associated with the COVID-19 pandemic sent the town of nearly 2,000 residents into a steep economic nose dive. 

Members of the Jackpot Town Advisory Board looked for ways to diversify the local economy and decided a cannabis dispensary would be a viable addition to the town’s mix of businesses. 

While cannabis is legal in Nevada for both medical and adult use purposes, there has been a ban on cannabis businesses in Elko County since 2014. Jackpot is the county’s largest unincorporated community where, according to the latest U.S. Census data, the median household income is $26,139, and 21.1 percent of the local population lives below the federally established poverty line.

State law enables cities to decide to allow cannabis businesses or not, regardless of the county laws in which the incorporated municipality resides. Within vast Elko County, the incorporated cities of Wells, Carlin and West Wendover have passed ordinances to allow cannabis businesses, and in December of 2019, a Deep Roots Harvest dispensary opened in West Wendover, which is on the Utah border. 

In April of 2020, amid the coronavirus pandemic, the Elko Band Council of the Te-Moak Tribe of the Western Shoshone Tribal Nation opened a state-regulated dispensary on tribal land on the north side of the City of Elko. 

During the July 1, 2020 Elko County Commission meeting, Monica Burt and Teresa Hugill, both members of the Jackpot Town Advisory Board, asked county leaders to allow a dispensary in unincorporated Jackpot to stave off the effects of a severe economic downturn and diversify the local economy.

“The hotels and casinos were closed for nearly 12 weeks. In essence, if you look at it, for the first 6 months of this year, we have hardly made any money at all for the town of Jackpot,” said Monica Burt.

When asking the Commissioners to lift the ban on dispensaries in the unincorporated parts of Elko County and allow one in Jackpot, Teresa Hugill accounted for the moral opposition some Commissioners have expressed regarding legal cannabis.

“We understand that allowing a dispensary brings people’s personal views and beliefs into decisions. However, we ask for you to put those feelings aside for the moment. We ask that you focus your decisions solely on what is best for the community of Jackpot and the people that live there and for Elko.

“We respectfully ask that Elko County Commissioners lift the ordinance that prohibits dispensaries from doing business in unincorporated towns and allow Jackpot to have a dispensary. And from the bottom of my heart, I ask that you guys help us be able to do this. We have a lot of people in need there. And this will bring jobs to the town. It will bring businesses to the town, and we’re at a loss of what to do from here,” Hugill said.

Commissioners asked county staff to work with stakeholders and develop an ordinance to accommodate a cannabis business in Jackpot, and on November 4 of 2020, the Commission unanimously adopted the ground-breaking set of regulations.

Now, Thrive Cannabis Marketplace is on track to open a dispensary in Jackpot sometime in mid-September and has hired 25 people to date.

A cannabis dispensary in Jackpot is well-situated to succeed. Idaho is one of three states that has no legal provision for cannabis, and some 60 miles or so to the north of Jackpot are several Idaho communities along the Snake River with a total regional population of nearly 250,000 people. The Thrive dispensary in Jackpot would be the closest dispensary to the cities of Wendell, Appleton, Jerome, Twin Falls, Burley, and others in southern Idaho.

To learn more, we spoke with Mitch Britten operating partner of Thrive Cannabis Marketplace.

Music credits as reported to the Public Radio Exchange, in order of appearance.

Song: Driftwood
Artist: Rena Jones
Album: Driftwood
Label: Imports
Date: 2006
Duration: 2:15

Song: Open me Slowly
Artist: Rena Jones
Album: Driftwood
Label: Imports
Date: 2006
Duration: 1:08

Song: Afterwards@the Bar
Artist: Caia
Album: The Magic Dragon
Label: Guidance Recordings
Date: 2003
Duration: 3:36

Song: Aquarius
Artist: Boards of Canada
Album: Different Colors
Label: Warp
Date: 1998
Duration:2:07

Song: Happy Cycling
Artist: Boards of Canada
Album: Different Colors
Label: Warp
Date: 1998
Duration: :56