North Carolina tribe to vote on recreational cannabis legalization

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Recreational marijuana could become available in North Carolina, but only from the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.

Members of the federally recognized Native tribe, based on a 57,000-acre tract they own in the western part of the state, about 46 miles from Asheville, will vote Sept. 7 on whether to legalize adult-use cannabis, The Charlotte Observer reported.

The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians is already the only provider of medical cannabis in the state.

Opposition from Republican state lawmakers blocked a statewide medical cannabis proposal earlier this summer.

However, any state resident suffering from one of 18 conditions approved by the tribe can apply for a medical-cannabis recommendation and shop at what tribal leaders say will be the world’s largest medical cannabis superstore.

The tribe says it’s already grown $25 million worth of cannabis.

However, “funding issues” mean there’s still no opening date for the medical cannabis dispensary, the Charlotte Observer reported.

Allowing any adult 21 and older to purchase marijuana on the tribe’s Qualla Boundary would be the “ultimate business model,” said Forrest Parker, general manager of Qualla Enterprises, a company that tribal leaders set up to manage cannabis cultivation and sales.

The tribe decriminalized cannabis possession in 2021 and set up regulations for medical cannabis that include a cannabis control board like those seen in the 23 states that have legalized adult-use cannabis.

About 9,600 people live on the boundary, the Observer reported. The tribe has 14,000 enrolled members.