The cultivation, sale and use of medical cannabis is now legal in Western North Carolina, specifically in the Qualla Boundary, after the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians announced the approval on Aug. 5.
Medical cannabis remains illegal in all other parts of North Carolina; however, the Cherokee land is now open to legally sell medical cannabis because the tribe "is a sovereign nation, meaning it has its own laws, elections, government, institutions, and the like," according to the Charlotte Observer.
Under the ordinance, which establishes the regulatory framework for the cultivation, sale and use of medical cannabis in the Qualla Boundary, tribal members and non-members 21 years and older, who qualify for a medical cannabis card, will be eligible to purchase cannabis from a dispensary on the land.
Patient cardholders are limited to purchasing 1 ounce of cannabis per day and must not exceed 6 ounces per month. "There shall be a limit of 2,500 milligrams of THC in medical cannabis products sold to a medical cannabis patient cardholder per day, not to exceed 10,000 milligrams of THC within medical cannabis products per month," the ordinance states.
Jeremy Wilson, governmental affairs liaison for Principal Chief Richard Sneed, told the Charlotte Observer that the tribal Cannabis Control Board would be responsible for issuing medical cannabis cards to qualifying patients, something that typically requires a doctor's signature. While the tribe is aware it may face backlash for this, Wilson told the Observer the board members plan only to approve patients who can provide health records that show they have a condition that medical cannabis is proven to help with.
Additionally, Wilson said the board would allow the sale of medical cannabis to patients who received a medical cannabis card from another tribe or state where it's legal.
The five-member board, consisting of experts in the cannabis industry, law enforcement and health care, will also be responsible for awarding cultivation, laboratory, processing and dispensary licenses.
The tribe has yet to establish a timeline for when the cultivation or sale of medical cannabis will begin in the Qualla Boundary.