Disagreements and Disdain for Cannabis in Fallon – Green Cross’ Story and Continued Willpower

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Anti cannabis in northern nevada

Contributed by Joshua Kasoff

While the more populated and frequently traveled to areas of the Silver State have vibrant and expansive recreational cannabis marketplaces with more variance in strains and dispensaries than a regular consumer could imagine as long as you overlook the questionable nature in which licenses were allocated, other more rural, socially conservative-leaning areas of the states aren’t as green-tinted vibrant. In fact, Fernley, a Northern Nevada town of almost 20,000 people, has a single dispensary. This dispensary, Silver State Relief, is the only recreational dispensary eastward of Reno for quite a significant distance. 

Had there not been a unanimous local ordinance passed in the neighboring town of Fallon that prohibited the recreational sale of cannabis, there would’ve been far more variance and availability for those living east of Reno. But similarly to smaller, more old-fashioned red towns across the Legal States -Colorado being a prime example- the City Council of Fallon passed Bill 780 in 2018. This effectively prohibited the recreational sale of cannabis in their 8,600 person town, approximately 30 minutes east of Fernley.      

    According to a report by The Nevada Appeal, the four-hour Fallon City Council meeting turned into a debate on June 20, 2018. It was a true embodiment of the town’s still very apparent prohibitionist viewpoints on recreational cannabis sales, testing and cultivation in the town. Among cheers, many officials and concerned citizens throughout Churchill County came in both opposition and support of the restrictive measure. The stated reasons for such strong opposition were “lack of county votes in favor of legalization; effects on users and surrounding people; and the drug is not legal on a federal level in terms of possession, distribution and cultivation”. Lastly there was the absolute classic cannabis concern of children having extended access to the plant. 

Anti-Cannabis Views

In fact, the voting statistics of Churchill County for Question 2 in 2016 back up the anti-cannabis views and concerns that citizens across the county are feeling. The expansive county of about 25,000 voted against Question 2 with an almost 60 percent majority and to this day, recreational sales and cultivation are still prohibited in Fallon and Churchill County’s surrounding towns. 

Green Cross Farmacy Anti Cannabis fight

This ruling, distinct in the state, comes as a great detriment to Nate VanTreese, owner of Green Cross Farmacy. They’re the sole dispensary in Nevada that is still only permitted to dispense medical cannabis to patients.

To VanTreese, he feels that a main reason as to why some residents of Fallon and their City Council are against cannabis is due to fear of a negative perceived public image.

“They felt it didn’t match the image of their town.” said VanTreese. “One of the city councilmen said that he went through Pahrump when coming back from Vegas and saw a big marijuana leaf on a digital billboard. And he didn’t want Fallon being known as a “pot town.”

Disagreements & Disdain

With such a strong disgust of the cannabis billboards, it’s only imaginable what this city councilman’s reaction was to the numerous brothels in Pahrump with billboard advertisements.

Furthermore, VanTreese said that some of the City Council members had preconceived judgements towards cannabis prior to the June 20 meeting, such as Councilwoman Kelly Frost, a teacher who previously voted against Green Cross’ current medical only location to exist. 

“I find it odd that the mayor would let us open up for medical purposes but not for recreational purposes. Logically, it doesn’t make sense because we’re selling the same products that you’ll find in every other store. We’re the only dispensary that is ‘medical only’. Because of the city ordinance, we also have a production and cultivation that we can’t open here.” 

According to Nate, who moved to Fallon approximately four years ago, the opposition towards cannabis in Fallon is multi-layered, affecting all levels of local government. Mayor Ken Tedford, a small business owner in Fallon himself with Tedford Auto and Service, wasn’t interested in hearing about the potential economic benefits for the town that recreational cannabis would bring. 

The Churchill Community Coalition

“A big positive to the community {of Fallon} is that they get three percent of the sales.” Another contradictory point that VanTreese mentioned was that despite Fallon voting against recreational cannabis and a showing sizable portion of Churchill County’s true colors on the subject of cannabis, the county is still entitled to the revenue generated on the state level. In Fiscal Year 2020, Churchill County received $88,245 in tax dollars from cannabis sales, 88,245 dollars that they ironically wouldn’t want generated within their northwest Nevada kingdom.

One of the biggest players in opposition to Green Cross expanding into recreational territory was a local group called the Churchill Community Coalition. On their website under their link called “Marijuana Information”, it’s a slew of anti-cannabis reports and statistics as well as this absolutely hilarious list of mostly unused cannabis slang terms, most notably “boom” and “roach”

Cannabis disdain in northern Nevada anti cannabis

As such, it wouldn’t be too surprising to know that the CCC is financially supported by the Nevada Division of Public and Behavioral Health, Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Agency and the SAPT Block Grant for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, all of which are groups famous for their anti-cannabis stances. 

Educating the Opposition

In an attempt to quell their strong opposition, VanTreese invited the entirety of the CCC to tour the dispensary that is very much playing by the extensive and occasionally unnecessary rules. Almost reminiscent of a scene out of a sitcom, the two representatives of the CCC that showed up didn’t bring their identification with them, possibly in a weak and thinly veiled attempt to supposedly catch the employees of Green Cross in the act of not checking IDs but that’s just from observation. Simultaneously, not possessing proper identification could be a civil fine in certain parts of the state; but, I’m certain the representatives of the CCC conveniently decided to overlook that.    

Despite the hostility of a considerable portion of Fallon, VanTreese and his Green Cross team are still staying involved in the community. To befriend and develop a rapport with the fastest growing demographic of new cannabis users, Nate had recently been volunteering at the local senior’s center where some residents still subscribe to their prohibitionist stances. Yet, VanTreese is determined to continue to engage with the older residents of Churchill County; once we’re no longer in a pandemic that is.   

While the fate of in-person events and mass gatherings are a bit uncertain right now, the Green Cross team eventually plans on hosting discussions about cannabis, providing education and resources to receive a better understanding of the plant’s potential. And as expected, VanTreese sees these eventual group discussions as being possibly beneficial towards changing the discord surrounding cannabis in Churchill County. 

“We’ll have a discussion and see exactly what their concerns are.” VanTreese said. “If they knew about some of these people who are going to stores and getting medical products, I think they would change their tune.”

Continued Willpower

A few other new convenient position appointments may also assist in Green Cross possibly becoming recreational one day. One of the most potentially influential of those being Karla Kent, a new city Council member. She is also President of Kent’s Supply Center, a hardware supply business in Fallon. As a small business owner and operator who’s ideally passionate about increasing the local economy, VanTreese hopes that Kent is far more positively receptive towards Green Cross’ message and aspirations based upon her own professional career.

To continually advocate for the patient, the Green Cross staff is providing free consultations and assistance for prospective patients looking to obtain their medical card, and not just for residents of Fallon. VanTreese mentioned that they’d be elated to provide this service to any residents of Churchill County or Reno wishing to do the same. 

However, as is expected in Fallon, there’s another hurdle Green Cross must overcome. As it currently stands, there aren’t any doctors in Fallon who will authorize a medical cannabis card. To circumvent, the dispensary partners through telecommunication with a doctor in Carson City by the name of Dr. Scott Kipling who runs a suboxone clinic in Carson City and has seen the true potential for the plant in treating opioid addiction.

Still though, it’ll be quite a developing story how the more socially conservative towns in Nevada adapt to cannabis becoming increasingly legal.  

Joycelin Arnold

Joycelin Arnold

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