From Washington State to Nevada and New York, indigenous cannabis ventures serve millions of customers and bring revenue to dozens of tribes
Legal marijuana has been a boon to state economies across the country by just about every measurable figure. Sales, tax dollars, jobs, investments, you name it — the numbers are off the charts in pretty much all of the 14 operating recreational and 29 medical-only states.
Among the beneficiaries — and leaders — of the movement have been Native American tribes. Because they’re not subject to state law, tribal organizations have set up their own stores and systems of regulation and taxation. That means they’ve been able to offer amenities that off-reservation establishments can’t yet offer.
For example, the Las Vegas Paiute tribe opened the state’s first cannabis consumption lounge, the Vegas Tasting Room, more than three years ago. Non-tribal entities are still waiting to open their own consumption lounges (it should be soon, but that’s another story entirely).
The Paiutes also run the world’s second-largest cannabis store, the NuWu Cannabis Marketplace. Earlier this year they broke ground on a planned mega-nightclub for weed-fueled pool parties complete with DJ sets and live entertainment.
Not surprisingly, the tribe is thriving — to the tune of over $6 million per month in product sales.
“Cannabis has been our ticket to a more prosperous economic future,” said Curtis Anderson, a tribal councilman and former Las Vegas Paiute chairman. “It’s allowed us to offer college scholarships for our members, it’s improved the quality of care at our tribal clinic, and it’s given us new opportunities we
could have never imagined even just a few years ago.”
Just as importantly, the Paiutes’ NuWu Cannabis Marketplace along with its Vegas Tasting Room and a second dispensary in the northwest part of town combine to serves tens of thousands of customers each month. They’ve placed seven-figure product orders with local cultivators and opened the door for countless vendors to have a chance in the legal industry.
“It’s more than a self-fulfilling thing for us,” Anderson said. “We exist to grow the industry as a whole.”
The Paiutes’ marijuana empire stands alone among tribes in terms of its size, for now. But plenty of other Native American groups across the US have also launched prosperous weed businesses in recent years. And as more states move toward legalizing the plant, the tribal weed offerings promise to keep growing.
In honor of Indigenous People’s Day on Monday, October 10, here’s a look at some of the more well-established tribal marijuana stores across the country.
25575 CA-79, Santa Ysabel, CA
Mountain Source Santa Ysabel is a 90-minute drive northeast from San Diego and about the same distance southeast of Los Angeles. Owned and operated by the Iipay Nation Tribe, the 8,000 square-foot dispensary sits next to a five-acre outdoor greenhouse operation where the tribe grows the weed sold in
the store. The massively profitable cannabis store replaced the tribe’s former gaming hotel, Santa Ysabel Resort & Casino.
Tribal Nation Flower Co.
31793 California Highway 41
Driving to Yosemite National Park from the south? Stop along the way at Tribal Nation Flower Co., on Highway 41 about 25 miles from the park’s southern entrance. They’ll offer you a wide array of products sourced from tribal growers and processors around the state—and they may let you in on a little Yosemite local knowledge.
139 US-395, Independence, CA
The Fort Independence Tribe of Paiute Indians have owned and operated this tax-free dispensary and marijuana drive-thru in the heart of the Sierra Nevada and Inyo Mountain ranges since early 2020.
Launched with a mission to protect and nourish the tribe’s land, water, and people, Oak Creek carries a full menu of flower, vape products, edibles, concentrates, tinctures, and more. The Fort Independence Paiutes also sell locally grown cannabis seeds.
NuWu Cannabis Marketplace and the Vegas Tasting Room
1235 Paiute Circle, Las Vegas, NV
Less than a mile away from downtown Las Vegas and within a 10-minute drive from the famed Vegas Strip, the Paiute-owned mega-dispensary and lounge was the world’s largest weed store by square footage until nearby Planet 13 built a bigger store.
The massive complex also features a 24-hour drive-thru, a valuable accommodation in a city that welcomes 40 million tourists each year.
The tribe also operates a smaller dispensary just 20 miles northwest of its flagship store and lounge. NuWu North is normally less crowded, and also features a 24-hour drive-thru.
1555 Shoshone Cir, Elko
Opened in April 2020 by the Elko Band Colony of the Te-Moak Tribe of Western Shoshone Indians, Newe promotes itself as “the best dispensary for miles” in rural Northern Nevada. Its mission, according to the company website, is to “provide much needed economic development for the Tribe.”
115 Etha Drive, Lovelock
Owned and operated by the Lovelock Paiute Tribe, it’s a 90-minute straight-shot drive from Reno, all on Interstate 80 Eastbound.
Tsaa Nesunkwa Dispensary
963 South Pioche Highway, Ely
Located on the edge of the Ely Shoshone tribe reservation on Nevada’s eastern border with Utah, Tsaa Nesunkwa translates to “Feel Good.”
Pesha Numma Dispensary
605 West Bridge Street, Yerington
The Yerington Paiute Tribe credits its economic future to its cannabis dispensary, said vice chairman Elwood Emm. Dire financial problems caused the medium-sized tribe of just over 300 members to shutter its tribal medical clinic in the years before Pesha Numma launched. Revenue from the
dispensary has single-handedly allowed the rural Central Nevada tribe to become fully operational again.
“It offered a lot of relief during the pandemic, both financial and physical,” Emm said. “We’ve seen huge demand for the plant from both locals and visitors.”
Water Canyon Dispensary
1985 Hanson St, Winnemucca
Owned by the Winnemucca Indian Tribe Colony, the Northern Nevada dispensary opened in the summer of 2020 and thrived during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Tumatzekwae Nobe Dispensary
4058 U.S. Highway 95, Schurz
The Walker River Paiute Tribe opened its Central Nevada cannabis store in early 2022. Tumatzekwae Nobe translates to “Healing House.”
New York State
New York tribes have opened more than 100 dispensaries in gas stations and wooden shacks as state authorities drag their feet on issuing official retail licenses. Though New York’s tribes admittedly operate in a legal grey area for now, police and regulators told the New York Times that authorities don’t plan
to intervene with the expanding tribal operations.
Little Beach Harvest
Little Beach Harvest
56 Montauk Highway, Southampton
Little Beach Harvest, a planned medical cannabis dispensary centered on “quality treatment with cannabis and convenience,” is expected to open in early 2023. It is being built by the 1,500-member Shinnecock Nation.
Good Leaf Dispensary
Two locations: Salamanca and Gowanda
Now open in two locations, Good Leaf has a presence both in Allegany Indian Territory (in the town of Salamanca) and in the Cattaraugus Territory of the Seneca Nation (in the town of Gowanda).
The Salamanca location is a converted gas station some 60 miles south of Buffalo. Good Leaf sits across the street from the Seneca Allegany Resort & Casino. Tribal dispensary owners Ross and Jay John also purchased a former Holiday Inn Express next door and renamed it the White Pine Lodge, in hopes of making it into a 420-friendly hotel.
“It’s the complete cannabis experience,” Ross John told Leafly. “We have the product and very soon we’ll have a comfortable place for people to use it.”
2121 Auburn Way South, Auburn
Located on the Muckleshoot Indian Reservation, Joint Rivers is home to Washington State’s first drive-thru dispensary, which opened in 2018. It’s also got one of the coolest-looking stores in the state. The shop is near Auburn, in the Muckleshoot Casino complex and conveniently on the way to the White River Amphitheater.
W 90, WA-108, Shelton, WA
The store has created dozens of new jobs for the historic tribe and made the Squaxin reservation in the southern reaches of Puget Sound a must-see for cannabis afficionados in the area.
Elevation is a 45-minute drive from neighboring Tacoma and about 75 minutes from Seattle.
Salish Coast Cannabis
12947 Casino Drive, Anacortes
Operated by the Swinomish Tribe, this cannabis store’s products are displayed in bright, clean, and uncluttered cases. The tribe says on the dispensary’s website that it prioritizes providing a comfortable cannabis shopping experience.
Local knowledge: Salish Coast is located next to the Swinomish Casino & Lodge, a fine entertainment venue; not far from Moka Joe’s, a great local coffee roaster; and down the road from the (tribe-run) Marathon Gas, which has the cheapest unleaded in the county and teaches you a few words of the tribe’s Lushootseed language while you’re filling up. Worth the trip!
Commencement Bay Cannabis
(One store in Fife, three in Tacoma)
The 4,000-member Puyallup Tribe has built a marijuana empire with a trio of stores in Tacoma and another in nearby Fife. All four—Commencement Bay Green, Commencement Bay Red, Commencement Bay Black, and Commencement Bay Yellow, are owned by the tribe and feature flower grown on the Puyallups’ 28-square-mile reservation.