Turning a NuLeaf: Inside Lake Tahoe’s newest medical marijuana dispensary | SierraSun.com

Turning a NuLeaf: Inside Lake Tahoe’s newest medical marijuana dispensary

Kayla Anderson
Special to the Sun

INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — Entering NuLeaf feels like going into a health foods store; no one would ever think the wooden-framed, warm and modern standalone building sandwiched between Woodstove Distributors and Sowing Basil is actually a medical marijuana dispensary.

As a way to meet the staff and see what the business is all about, NuLeaf hosted an open house for the community on June 23.

As roughly 100 people filter in at around 4:30 p.m. for the ribbon-cutting hosted by the Incline Business Community Association, NuLeaf Incline Dispensary General Manager Eli Scislowicz agrees that the turnout is larger than expected.

"We want to de-mystify the interior of the building, because if you're not a patient, you will never see these rooms again," Scislowicz states.

Due to state regulations, NuLeaf must pass an inspection before it can bring medical marijuana products in-house. Pending that inspection, NuLeaf hopes to be able to accept new patients before the end of the month, Scislowicz said.

"The whole open house was for Incline Village people to become familiar and comfortable with us," NuLeaf Dispensary and Processing Specialist Andrew Zaninovich says.

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A SAFE, WElCOMING PLACE

Since there was no product in the dispensary last week, this was also the only chance for the community and non-patients to see the building's full layout.

All rooms were open except two locked vaults — one where staff expects to keep the product, and one where the safe is stored.

Per Nevada law, only a doctor can issue a medical marijuana card — which is still subject to be denied by the government, even after showing extensive medical history and paying the fees, since marijuana is classified by the feds as an illegal drug.

Although guidelines are much more lax in California, Zaninovich says the process is done the right way in Nevada.

All cannabis products sold at the dispensary will be produced and manufactured right in Nevada. The marijuana comes in bar-coded bags from seed to bud so it can easily be tracked, and it also will have the patient's ID and information on it in case it falls into the wrong hands.

Even though the open façade of NuLeaf may seem inviting, if someone comes in who doesn't have a medical marijuana card, he or she will be given information on how to obtain one and told to leave.

"All other dispensaries are like that," Zaninovich says. "We want to create a place that is safe and welcoming for our patients."

He says that a lot of their patients are normal, everyday people who you would never expect use marijuana.

"Providing a safe place for people to access medicine is most important," Scislowicz confirms

HELPING PATIENTS

Scislowicz's involvement with cannabis is a very personal one — when he was four years old, his mother died of cervical cancer.

"I knew she was smoking something to alleviate her pain; I just didn't know what it was," he says.

He said that throughout the years, he has had a few back injuries and started ingesting cannabis to relieve his own pain. Scislowicz followed up with saying that the reason he became involved in the advocacy of it was due to observing the federal rules regarding scholarships for students.

He didn't think it was right that students could be hard criminals and receive funding, but a marijuana possession charge on a person's record is far more detrimental to their future.

NuLeaf has not started accepting patients yet; still, Scislowicz says two to three people come by per day asking when the storefront will be open.

Although a common reason for taking marijuana is to treat chronic pain, Scislowicz "wholeheartedly believes that cannabis helps with wellness overall."

"I think it's cool to see parents bringing their kids in here," California medical marijuana card holder Justin Kaamasee says.

Kaamasee added that it's nice to have a place in town where he can go to easily get medical aides to help with his insomnia and anxiety.

Holding two jobs in Incline Village where he works odd hours can often be difficult to get the proper amount of sleep.

"I prefer edibles to help with sleep over the flower," Kaamasee says. "And I end up drinking less."

'LOCATION IS PERFECT'

"I think it's fantastic," one Incline Village resident who attended the open house says. "I've been all for it since the beginning."

She says that she doesn't think Incline Village needs several dispensaries, but having at least one is great. Her husband is going to look into getting a card to help with his shoulder pain.

"We need to get his shoulder replaced and we can't afford it, nor can he take off time from work. He lives on ibuprofen," she says. "(NuLeaf) is easy to get to right off the road, but it doesn't stand out too much. What I expected is totally different from what it is. It looks nice from the outside, not like a marijuana dispensary; very clean and modern-looking.

"The location is perfect because it's kind of secluded and indiscreet."

Toward the end of the open house, Scislowicz concluded, "It's been wonderful meeting many faces in the community. We're excited to share this event and everyone seemed to have a good time."

"We want to make sure we're responsible community members," Zaninovich adds. "This takes all we've learned from the medical industry and what's happened in Colorado.

Luckily, Nevada has a good history of regulating vices and non-traditional businesses."

Kayla Anderson is an Incline Village-based freelance writer with a background in marketing and journalism. She loves sharing stories about Lake Tahoe and her community. Have a story idea? Email her at kaylaanderson1080@gmail.com.

More online

NuLeaf Incline Dispensary, a Nevada state-approved medical cannabis provider, is located at 877 Tahoe Blvd. in Incline Village. Once open, it will accept scripts from California and Nevada patients.

According to its website, NuLeaf — which operates other dispensaries in Nevada — “is a new approach in compassion through medical cannabis. Our model for care delivers unmatched service and quality in a warm and welcoming environment.”

Visit nuleafnv.com to learn more.

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