Jackpot!: 1st Nevada cannabis store cleared to open on Idaho border

Idaho. (Pixabay.com)

The first Nevada marijuana store on the Idaho border has been cleared to open in the rural Elko County town of Jackpot.

Despite opposition from county commissioners in Idaho, the Elko County Commission unanimously approved a business license for the Thrive Cannabis Marketplace this week after authorities confirmed dispensary workers had passed background checks, the Elko Daily Free Press reported.

“We have no issues moving forward with the license,” Elko County Undersheriff Justin Ames told the commission on Wednesday.

A representative for the store said it could be ready to open as early as Monday. The store will be open 24 hours, seven days a week about 65 miles (104 kilometers) north of Wells and 45 miles (72 kilometers) south of Twin Falls, Idaho.

Recreational use of marijuana is legal in Nevada and most states neighboring it, including California, Arizona and Oregon. A dispensary is operating in West Wendover on the border with Utah, where the drug is legal only for medical use.

But the Jackpot store will be Nevada’s first along the Idaho line.

Commissioners in Twin Falls County, just north of the border, had raised safety concerns about the dispensary on U.S. Highway 93, which connects Jackpot and the town of Twin Falls. Idahoans have long traveled across the state line to gamble.

Twin Falls County Sheriff Tom Carter warned that similar to alcohol, marijuana is an intoxicant. “It slows reflexes and impacts coordination,” he said.

Idaho authorities expect to increase patrols in the area once the pot shop opens.

“Anyone engaging in illegal behavior should be aware they risk attracting attention from law enforcement,” Idaho State Police said in a statement.

Establishment of marijuana sales in the unincorporated town faced an uphill battle in the rural northeast Nevada county where its own commissioners originally opposed Nevada’s ballot question legalizing marijuana.

Elko County Commissioner Rex Steninger was the first to embrace approval of legal sales in 2016, the Daily Free Press reported.

“I know people that use marijuana, and they are normally functioning members of our society. It is a shame that they need to deal with the black market and risk the wrath of the law,” Steninger said at the time.

In 2017, the board voted 3-2 to ban growing, dispensing and producing marijuana, with Commissioner Jon Karr joining Steninger to vote in opposition to the ban.

However, opposition to a dispensary waned last year after the coronavirus pandemic left Jackpot’s casino-tourism economy in tatters.

Thrive representative Dave Brown said the store interviewed nearly 60 job applicants, giving preference to Elko and Jackpot residents. Thirty-five people were hired and were being paid as of Sept. 8. Sixty percent of them are from Jackpot, including the manager of the facility, he said.

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