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Medical Marijuana Could Be Available On The Qualla Boundary Next Year

Lilly Knoepp
Tribal Council approved the medical marijuana program this month.

Medical marijuana will soon be legal on the Qualla Boundary. BPR shares the details – including a timeline for when people can buy it:

The Eastern Band of Cherokee started looking into legalizing medical marijuana over five years ago. For Jeremy Wilson of the tribe’s Cannabis Commission, this month’s vote by the Tribal Council to legalize it is a relief.

“It’s been surreal. You know, not everything is impossible just because it’s really hard,” said Wilson, who is Governmental Affairs Liaison for the tribe.

Now the nuts and bolts: When will medical marijuana be available on the Qualla Boundary?

“My hopeful timeline is that we can get something established and doors open in 12 months,” said Wilson.

The tribe needs time to grow its supply chain and create a control board which will regulate the sale of cannabis and approve medical marijuana cards for those with health conditions. The board will be nominated by Principal Chief Richard Sneed and confirmed by Tribal Council. 

There are 15 specific conditions plus additional symptoms  that would make a patient eligible for a medical marijuana card according to Tribal Council. The list includes anxiety, chronic pain and more. The control board will approve the cards based on medical records, according to the resolution.

“They apply, they get qualified and get their patient card. They can then purchase their product which will be to an ounce limit per a day or not to exceed 10,000 milligrams per month,” said Wilson. There is also a six ounce limit per month and a 2,500 milligrams limit per day. 

You must be age 21 or older to receive the card.

The board will work with an advisory council of local tribal leaders such as the CEO for the Cherokee Indian Hospital.

“The main license operator will Kituwah LLC. They will be in charge of the entire operation and they will fund the operation. The only area the tribal government, the tribe, has in this will be in the regulation standpoint,” explained Wilson.   The Kituwah LLC is a tribally-owned and operated economic development organization. Tribal government will fund the control board.

For the first three years, there will only be two medical dispensaries.

Wilson wants to remind those who might be eligible to purchase cannabis that local laws still apply: on the boundary consumption of cannabis must be done in the privacy of your own home and off the boundary you can still be arrested for possession.

The Eastern Band hopes that its medical marijuana program will be up and running by this time next year.

Lilly Knoepp is Senior Regional Reporter for Blue Ridge Public Radio. She has served as BPR’s first fulltime reporter covering Western North Carolina since 2018. She is from Franklin, NC. She returns to WNC after serving as the assistant editor of Women@Forbes and digital producer of the Forbes podcast network. She holds a master’s degree in international journalism from the City University of New York and earned a double major from UNC-Chapel Hill in religious studies and political science.
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