A Reno pot shop adapts

PHOTO/MATT BIEKER

Coleman Smith is manager for SoL, a new cannabis growhouse and dispensary, 275 US-395 Alt, Washoe Valley. We sat down to talk about SoL’s new business model for Northern Nevada dispensaries and how the cannabis industry has been affected by Canada’s recent legalization.

What is SoL, and how is it different from other shops in the area?

From the growing and cultivation side of things to the retail side of things, we’re the only vertically integrated operation in Northern Nevada, meaning we have our cultivation facility and dispensary on site. And, quite literally, full transparency is something we believe in, in that we’re the only facility that has a viewing window into our greenhouse in the entire state. … It’s more of the new age retail experience, you know. The Apple stores, the tech stores of the world or even big retail outlets, like, say, in San Francisco, in the Bay Area, where you walk in, and it’s up to your discretion how quickly you want the experience to go, or if you want to stay a while, you have that option. And so also in the viewing room, we have a bunch of furniture. We have TV screens displaying educational material, free coffee, free tea, WiFi for our customers. And then from there, we have a breezeway with menus and displays of the product. So you can take your time engaging in the experience for 45 minutes before you ever even get to your budtenders and start your transaction. And then, also, we have a patio with furniture and a great view of Mount Rose. We’ve also already had live music out there. So, yeah, we wanted SoL to be, you know, like I said, a fully transparent experience, but also a destination.

SoL is equipped to grow cannabis with natural sunlight instead of grow lamps for the most part. Why is that important?

Typical grow operations—it doesn’t matter what state you’re talking about, but in Nevada also—are indoor warehouses with LED lighting, you know, hydroponic nutrients system and synthetic nutrients and additives. And, quite honestly, Ed Alexander, our head grower and one of the owners, he’s a firm believer that Mother Nature knows best, and I think that that’s becoming something that, not even just in the cannabis industry but in food and health and everything else these days, that so many people are gravitating towards, or back towards. He believes that the plant is also best in terms of the experience, whether it be the medicinal effects or the taste or the smell, when you use organic nutrients and natural sunlight.

About SoL being a “destination,” what else do you mean by that?

Sure. So we have big plans as it pertains to on-site consumption. We’re lobbying in the 2019 sessions to have that amended. In addition to that, we have a long-term goal of building an amphitheater. Our owners are locals. They’re fans of music, of, you know, communal gatherings of all kinds, like Burning Man for instance. … We would love to have an amphitheater for the simple fact that we’d love to give back to the community and be something that, you know, Northern Nevada can be proud of. … we’re one of only three operations in Northern Nevada now that are even American owned anymore. It’s something that a lot of people outside of the industry don’t really realize is that Canadian corporations, now that it is federally legal there, have been coming in and buying out Nevada-owned dispensaries over the course of the last year, as well as across the entire country. So we want to make it something that remains Nevada-owned and expand our entertainment and everything else to make it something that brings the community together.