Medical cannabis legalized by Native American tribe in North Carolina

One of the most well-known and respected tribes in North Carolina has voted to start selling medical cannabis. 

The tribal government of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, which is renowned for launching the state’s first legal casino, will begin producing and selling the plant in medicinal form on Cherokee tribal territory.

The specific territory on which this Native American tribe plans to start serving medical cannabis consumers is known as the “Qualla Boundary.”

Located approximately 50 miles west of Asheville in the western North Carolina mountains, the tribe comprises the town of Cherokee, as well as tribal Cherokee land in Haywood, Jackson and Swain counties.

Will visitors be allowed to purchase medical cannabis from the Cherokee tribe?

People who are not Cherokee will be allowed to visit the tribe and purchase medical cannabis from the Cherokee dispensary. This is according to the governmental affairs liaison for Principal Chief Richard B. Sneed, Jeremy Wilson.

However, potential customers must share their health records with the tribe’s Cannabis Control Board. The Board will be tasked with reviewing health records and determining the suitability of medicinal cannabis for patients. Individuals must be aged 21 or above to receive the card.

What ailments and health conditions qualify for medical cannabis in the Cherokee tribe?

As per the Cherokee tribe’s medical cannabis ordinance, people aged 21 and above with the following health problems can legally purchase cannabis from the tribe’s dispensaries:

  • Acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS)
  • Anxiety
  • Autism spectrum disorders
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Anorexia nervosa
  • Cancer
  • Cachexia
  • Chronic pain
  • Dependence upon/addiction to opioids
  • Glaucoma
  • Muscle spasms
  • Nausea
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Seizures
  • Neuropathic conditions
  • Human immunodeficiency virus-related conditions.

Cherokee tribe sees money-making potential in legalizing medical cannabis

Revenue is one of the main reasons why medical cannabis is being legalized by the Cherokee tribe. The tribe has been raking in the cash since the year 1997, when it launched the region’s first ever casino gambling scene. 

Before the coronavirus pandemic erupted, the tribe’s prized casino pulled in more than $500 million on an annual basis. According to Wilson, the Cherokee tribe now needs to diversify its income strategy and medical cannabis legalization could be just the answer.

“When you have two options between — do you go to Kings Casino or do you go to Cherokee North Carolina — well Two Kings is obviously closer,” he said. “But now you got another option: You got cannabis and casino. So come see Cherokee, North Carolina.”