North Carolina tribe votes yes on recreational marijuana legalization

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Members of a Native American tribe in North Carolina on Thursday voted to legalize recreational marijuana on their territory.

The measure passed by a vote of roughly 2,400 to 1,000, Blue Ridge Public Radio reported.

The outcome of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians’ referendum allows the EBCI to legalize marijuana possession and use for people at least 21 and requires the tribal government “to develop legislation to regulate the market,” according to the tribe’s election board.

“For us, as the EBCI, as a sovereign nation, we are going to move forward with the results of tonight with an adult-use program, and really the way that I see it is that we are putting an issue to bed,” Joey Owle, the tribe’s secretary of agriculture and natural resources, told the Asheville-based radio outlet.

Medical marijuana is already legal on EBCI land, and an MMJ dispensary – Great Smoky Cannabis Co. – is slated to open later this year.

The tribe offered tribal members a sneak preview of the dispensary on Wednesday, The Charlotte Observer reported.

About a week before Thursday’s election, U.S. Rep. Chuck Edwards, a Republican, introduced legislation – the Stop Pot Act – that would “withhold certain federal funding from states and tribes that permit the use of recreational marijuana.”

An MMJ legalization bill advanced in North Carolina’s Legislature earlier this year but was ultimately defeated by Republican lawmakers.