The Tribal Council for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians on Thursday voted to legalize medical cannabis and possession up to one ounce by adults 21-and-older, Spectrum News 1 reports. Cannabis sales and cultivation remain outlawed but Principal Chief Richard Sneed said the vote is the first toward broader reforms.
“There’s so much science now supporting cannabis as a medicine. This really is a quality-of-life issue as well for folks who have debilitating diseases, chronic pain, chronic back pain, cancer. This is really just the first step, or kind of the cornerstone of moving toward medicinal. We have to have this in place first.” – Sneed to Spectrum News
The Nation’s lands include about 100 square miles in the mountains of western North Carolina, called the Qualla Boundary. While possession of a half-ounce or less is punishable by only a fine in North Carolina, the tribe’s successful vote makes it the first area in the state to legalize cannabis possession for adults. North Carolina does not have a medical cannabis program.
During the meeting, Councilmember Richard French noted that legalizing medical cannabis could help the tribe with the opioid epidemic.
“All of us have been affected by the opioids. All of us have lost someone,” he said prior to the vote. “It’s for the betterment of our people.”
The council did remove part of the ordinance that would have allowed individuals to give away small amounts of cannabis without remuneration.
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