WEST WENDOVER, Nevada — This border community’s first-ever marijuana dispensary will finally be opening.
Deep Roots Harvest confirmed to FOX 13 it will open on Monday morning after receiving final approval from Nevada’s Department of Taxation. Awaiting that approval had delayed the opening for weeks.
“Kudos to Mayor Corona, the City of West Wendover staff and City Council for opening up medical and adult use access to residents and patients of northern Nevada and Elko county,” Deep Roots Chief Operating Officer Jon Marshall said in a text message to FOX 13. “Deep Roots is looking forward to a strong partnership with the community there and we’re grateful for their support. Deep Roots Harvest is excited to be the first medical and recreational dispensary in Elko County.”
West Wendover Mayor Daniel Corona told FOX 13 he welcomed them to the community, predicting an economic boom for his community.
“I’m excited for Deep Roots and their 45 employees who have been patiently awaiting the final OK from the state,” he said. “I’m looking forward to this new industry creating a long lasting economic impact on our community and have no doubt that Deep Roots will find success here in West Wendover.”
The cannabis dispensary has been a long time coming for this community. In 2017, FOX 13 first reported on the border town considering marijuana sales. Nevada voters in 2016 approved recreational marijuana sales. However, West Wendover’s City Council initially had reservations and rejected it (prompting the mayor to veto that decision), but finally voted earlier this year to allow it.
In addition to being the first dispensary in northeastern Nevada, it is also the closest one to Salt Lake City. West Wendover’s population swells on weekends, mostly from Utahns who visit the border town to visit the casinos, take in a concert or shop at discount liquor stores. Marijuana is expected to be an additional lure to Utahns to make the 90 minute drive west.
However, it is illegal to transport marijuana across state lines. Signs are posted outside the dispensary warning about criminal offenses. Casinos do not permit cannabis on their grounds and it is illegal to consume marijuana in public in Nevada.
The Utah Highway Patrol has told FOX 13 it plans no special enforcement along I-80, but will be monitoring for signs of impairment (like it does with alcohol).
Recreational marijuana remains illegal in Utah. Voters in 2018 legalized medical cannabis. The Utah State Legislature overrode that ballot initiative with a bill that created a more regulated system. Until that system is in place by March 2020, qualifying medical cannabis patients have been known to travel across state lines to purchase their medicine or get it from the black market.
Some patient groups have been eagerly awaiting the opening of Deep Roots’ dispensary, despite the legal risks.
“Deep Roots opening in Wendover has been long anticipated by people in Nevada and patients in Utah,” said Desiree Hennessy, the executive director of the Utah Patients Coalition. “The desire for many patients to visit out of state dispensaries shows how critical it is that Utah’s program fully launches this spring to give patients a close and convenient option to obtain their medicine without having to go out of state.”
Together for Responsible Use and Cannabis Education (TRUCE) did warn Utahns to be careful traveling between states and called on lawmakers to push for an interstate compact between Utah and legal cannabis states to protect patients.
“Desperate patients who’ve waited all year will no doubt travel to Wendover for clean, safe, and accessible products. Use caution; we know that a driver’s license and plates are being counted. Drivers are being pulled over near our eastern border towns and being questioned if they have cannabis in the vehicle,” TRUCE founder Christine Stenquist said in a statement to FOX 13. “Stay as legal as possible by following allowable amounts by law. As well as having an affirmative defense letter with your qualifying condition.”