On Thursday, September 7, 2023, a voting session was held among the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI) to determine the potential legalization of recreational marijuana usage inside their territory situated in western North Carolina. Members of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians voted in favor of legalizing the recreational sale of cannabis by a margin of 70 to 30.
The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians has conducted a vote in favor of endorsing the legalization of marijuana possession, usage, and sale for anyone aged 21 and over. The nation anticipates that this initiative will serve as a significant catalyst for job creation and economic prosperity within the community. However, recreational sales won’t start until later this year at the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians dispensary, Great Smoky Cannabis Company.
Although North Carolina continues to enforce legal penalties for the possession of even small quantities of marijuana, the sovereign nation possesses the jurisdiction to govern and oversee the regulation of recreational cannabis. Several native territories have also enacted legislation to allow the commercial distribution of cannabis for recreational purposes. Some of these include the Seneca Nation in New York and the Red Lake Nation in Minnesota.
Cherokee Legalize Recreational Cannabis, Expanding From Medical Operations
The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians’ for-profit cannabis operation is known as Qualla Enterprises. The nation already with extensive experience with cannabis, has generated $30 million through its medical marijuana sales, operated by Qualla Enterprises.
Qualla Enterprises has recently diversified its operations from the medical sector to include recreational activities. Now the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians will expand their cannabis operations for the adult-use market with a recreational dispensary. However, recreational sales are not yet operational.
An Open House And Job Fair Was Offered
The inaugural opening of the sole recreational dispensary in North Carolina occurred on the Cherokee’s sovereign territory. The dispensary organized a three-hour open house event on the day preceding the voting on the newly approved legislation. The cannabis dispensary, known as Green Smoky Cannabis Company, is situated within the extensive premises of the tribe’s renovated former bingo hall. The dispensary is located on U.S. 19 in close proximity to Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort.
The Great Smoky Cannabis Company had an open house on Wednesday, September 6, 2023, where various products were showcased. The assortment of items included Kushy Sour Gummies, pleasure oil, and THC shots.
In addition, a job fair was organized concurrently with the dispensary open house event. The extension of marijuana sales to all adults will result in the creation of around 400 new employment opportunities. These positions are anticipated to pay competitively and would be filled mostly by enrolled Cherokee members. Currently, the proportion of indigenous members employed in cultivation activities for their medical operations is 84 percent. This number is higher than the employment rates of any other nation-operated businesses.