On a sunny Saturday autumn afternoon in the peaceful ranchland of Washoe City, Jelly Bread band members are strumming their guitars and singing soulful tunes on a small stone platform set up in front of a perfectly manicured lawn. Properly socially distanced folding chairs provide seating for those who want to dance or slap their knees to the tunes.
The environment, against a backdrop of colorful foliage and the Slide Bowl of Mt. Rose, aligns perfectly with the name of the venue at which the band is playing — SoL Cannabis.
Opened two years ago, SoL Cannabis is the only dispensary in Northern Nevada (if not the whole state) that grows and sells organic sunlit marijuana products. It has won dozens of awards for its flower, grown in organic soil from its viewable greenhouse that also hosts a commercial kitchen and extraction lab. In fact, customers are invited to take pictures of the 25,000-square-foot greenhouse and share them on social media, showcasing upwards of 1,500 happy plants stretching 8 to 11 feet toward the sun.
SoL Cannabis owner Ed Alexander, usually robed in a colorful tie-dye, is easy to spot with his Santa Claus-like beard and warm demeanor. “You can’t have a bad day when you see people in brightly colored clothing,” he says.
Alexander has been involved with the Northern Nevada cannabis industry for more than 30 years and prides himself on creating an experience at his store while educating his customers about the medicinal benefits received from his particular plants.
“We’re one of the last privately owned cannabis businesses trying to destigmatize the plant,” Alexander says. The dispensary does indeed have a relaxing, comfortable, good vibe, which aids Alexander in creating a space that alludes to a cultural experience and not just a transaction.
“We aim to provide an experience like you would have in Napa Valley where you go into a vineyard and relax and enjoy live music,” he says. “As you can see, we encourage people to take pictures of our greenhouse because we like to show people that we’re one of the only organic sunlit dispensaries around.”
SoL keeps about 20 strains of flower in rotation and has won a plethora of awards mainly based on the flavor of the cannabis, like one would enjoy a fine wine.
“We allow people to pick and choose what kind of experience they want to have,” Alexander says. “People who come in here ask, ‘Can you show me the terpenes?’ as opposed to searching for products with the highest levels of THC.”
SoL gets customers of all ages in the dispensary, but its average guest is 57 years old.
SoL also works with a variety of local nonprofits, sponsoring golf tournaments, holiday meals for the less fortunate and bicycles for kids. Before COVID, Alexander was often seen providing free food and entertainment to his guests, just asking people to make a donation in return to support whatever local nonprofit is featured that month.
“I take pride in the fact that we are locally owned and operated and very philanthropic in our investment in the community,” he says. “We put people before profits every day. We practice conscious capitalism. … I always say I value my karmic account over my Wells Fargo one.”
People come from all over Northern Nevada and Lake Tahoe for SoL’s regulated, lab-tested, certified products, which also act as medicine on some kind of level.
“We have a ton of people who come here because it’s the largest, if not only the only, organic sunlit facility in the state,” Alexander says. “People are willing to make the drive for a better product. It’s so new that people are still trying to find their path of therapeutic value, and we want to make people feel at ease doing a cannabis purchase and not like it’s a handoff in the Albertson’s parking lot. We want to exceed our customers’ expectations at every opportunity, make this the Disneyland for potheads.”
After an engaging conversation with Alexander, I venture into the main store to look at the products with my eye on the Forbidden Fruit flower that he says he is getting ready to enter in a contest. I use the ATM, which charges a modest $1.50 fee transaction, and talk to budtender Karisa about the benefits and expectations of that particular plant.
I pay for my treat and once home, effortlessly take it out of its simple and ecofriendly packaging. The deep purple bud has hints of cherry notes, which follow through when ingested. It tastes flavorful and organic and creates the desired effect of making me more productive yet allowing me to unwind and sleep well through the night. The heart and SoL put into this plant definitely shines through.
275 Old U.S. Hwy 395
Washoe City, NV 89704