The City of Ely moved to approve Acres Dispensary a dispensary license but not without the tribe giving their input on it.
John Mueller, CEO and founder of Acres Dispensary, attended the city council meeting on March 9. He wants to put the dispensary at 940 E. Aultman, a building owned by the Anderson’s that used to be the Joker’s Wild Restaurant.
Mueller spoke before the council introducing himself and giving them a bit of background information on how Ely was brought to his attention. The Department of Taxation contacted him and recommended he contact Mayor VanCamp to discuss the possibilities for Ely.
Mueller spoke of the four regulated establishments he is currently operating in Las Vegas and Amargosa Valley.
“We have been in this business now four years, we are highly regulated, every square inch that we operate is under camera, police chief would have access to our cameras, we’re very proud of what we’ve done, we’ve learned a lot, it’s a much harder business than we’ve ever been involved in before, I’m the CEO, the largest shareholder of the company” Mueller said.
Mueller explained they started from scratch in Amargosa valley, and currently have 38 employees that operate the cultivation facility.
Mueller said, “We are now buying housing there. We’re sending kids to school. We’re helping with the senior center. And I think if you look across the country not just acres but you look across the country when you look at canabis operations and they come in small towns, they can really have an impact on your city, and what I believe is a positive way that’s controlling and eliminating black marketing. We go out and educate seniors and we educate the community, parents on how to keep this away from kids.”
Mueller said they are excited to be a part of the community here, adding that they would be filling another vacant building.
Mueller reached out to the tribal dispensary, and offered to help with cultivating. “Competition is good no matter what business you are in. I think our application fee is $30,000 … Some of these budget things we heard about tonight, I think can be solved with reaching out on this program too, and it’d be good for the city.”
City Attorney Chuck Odgers asked the council if they had any questions. Councilman Tony DeFelice asked if the location was to0 close to the school, and Odgers reassured the council the building is located more than a 1,000 feet, and the law requires at least 1,000 feet.
Councilman Sam Hanson said he had received an email from Joe Dice, who represents the Shoshone Tribe. Hanson mentioned that Dice had showed a monetary figure on their proposal.
Odgers quickly answered, saying “Let’s be very clear on this, Nevada law for Mr. Mueller says that on the medical marijuana side we can charge him the $30,000. On the recreational side of it, we can only get 3 percent of the gross. So there is no give and take percentages or anything of that nature on this, this is a strict business.”
Hanson said, “And that would be the same amount for the tribe?”
Odgers replied, “Yes.”
Dice quickly stepped up to the podium before the council and said, “No, the tribal compact that you guys voted and approved was 3.5 percent sales tax plus licensing fee.” Odgers went on to explain that the city didn’t agree to a tribal compact relative to sale, only on the cultivation, and that compact is very specific.”
Dice said the compact he was referring to is the one the mayor vetoed. Dice also noted on Sept. 25, Steve Gilbert with Department of Taxation issued the tribe a MME number and a license for the city of Ely, “Originally the tribal license would count towards your one, and I know he mentioned competition is good. I believe marijuana is good for your community, competition not so much. Nevada Revised Statute took into account federal mandates, this population base is allowed one dispensary,” Dice said.
Dice went on to tell the council that the tribe was going to move forward with its facility at 16 Shoshone Circle, which is in city limits.
“When the mayor and you guys toured the facility we showed you how it’s already built out to possibly house a dispensary,” he said. “One license is allowed for this population.”
Odgers said, “I disagree with Mr. Dice, the compact with the state is very specific. The tribe can be issued one, the compact has no impact, those licenses don’t count against the licenses we issue in the jurisdictions where it indicates that there are two licenses for a county with a population of less than 55,000 people.
“So, even if Mr. Dice is correct, which I don’t believe he is, there would still be two licenses allowed in White Pine County, so the city of Ely did not request that the Ely Shoshone tribe do an additional license for the city of Ely that was not a request of the city. The city’s ability to obtain a license in my opinion has not been taken away by the unilateral decision of the state to issue it to the shoshone tribe.”
It seemed as though a back and forth debate went on between Odgers and Dice regarding the number of licenses allowed.
Dice noted that county is allowed two, the city of Ely is allowed one, so there’s actually three licenses, but in city limits there’s only one. Dice said, “Maybe I misunderstand that, I’m asking do you really want to do that? Do you want to drive down the tax revenue by having two?
“Do you want an out-of-town dispensary, when the Ely Shoshone Tribe is here? This is where the money is going to stay circulating in your community.”
Mueller stepped in and added that his staff would be located here. “If Mr. Dice is correct, which I don’t believe so, moving forward, worse case scenario they turn us down, if he is correct, then I’ve wasted a lot of time, I think we’ve done our homework pretty well and our position is good, there’s a reason department of Taxation reached out to us, we have a specific strategy,” Mueller said.
When Mueller was asked by councilman Tony DeFelice how quickly he would open his business if approved, Mueller said he wanted to be in by the air races.
“If I could get here tomorrow I would,” Mueller said.
DeFelice asked how much money would he make monthly, Mueller said about a $100,000 a month depending on your seasons.
DeFelice asked “Gross sales?”
Mueller said, “Yes … gross sales, a $100,00 a month.”
Carson moved to approve, DeFelice seconded it, and the vote passed with a 3 to 1 vote with Hanson voting no.