Eastern Band of Cherokee Chief vetoes medical marijuana enterprise funding
This story was originally published in the Smoky Mountain News.
Following a veto from Principal Chief Richard Sneed, the Cherokee Tribal Council Thursday reversed an April decision that allocated $64 million to the tribe’s medical cannabis business. In his veto letter, Sneed expressed concern that the funding decision could jeopardize the tribe’s casino business and called for a “full accounting” of the $31 million already provided before giving the enterprise more money.
The business, Qualla Enterprise, asked Council for $63 million in December 2022, but concern about potential repercussions from the National Indian Gaming Commission, which forbids use of gaming dollars to fund cannabis operations, caused Council to appropriate only the $10 million it could identify from funds not tied to gambling proceeds. Over the following months, Qualla Enterprise and Tribal Council went back and forth about how to gather the rest of the funding.
On April 6, Tribal Council approved an additional $64 million, ostensibly marking an end to months of uncertainty for Qualla Enterprise. The money was to come from the tribe’s investment accounts and its general fund. Attorney Darian Stanford of Sovereign Solutions Carolina, which Qualla Enterprise had contracted to work on the project, said this was consistent with where the $31 million already allocated to the tribe had come from. If they didn’t approve the request, several Tribal Council members said, the business would crumble, and they would lose the $31 million they had already invested.
Read the rest of the article on the Smoky Mountain News.
This story was updated to include a correction from the Smoky Mountain News. Originally it stated that Tribal Council approved the funding unanimously in April. The Tribal Council vote was divided.