KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Medical marijuana is legalized on Cherokee tribal land in the region, and discussions are continuing among tribal council members with the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, legal counsel and the tribe’s recently created Cannabis Control Board for the sale of it.
The tribal council hasn’t yet passed its ordinance that will make way for medical marijuana sales, instead tabling the ordinance with amendments earlier this month during a March 3 meeting.
While medical marijuana is not permitted in the two states in which the Cherokee hold sovereign tribal lands, a path has been laid for it to be legally sold to card-carrying patients within tribal lands in the near future. It’s just a matter of when the path can be followed and regulated by the EBCI Cannabis Control Board.
In August 2021, the EBCI Tribal Council ratified its ordinance convening the EBCI Cannabis Control Board and approved the creation of codified laws related to medical marijuana in its Cherokee Code, Chapter 17. The Cannabis Control Board is the governing body that regulates the sale and tracking of medical marijuana within tribal land dispensaries.
According to the EBCI, its Cannabis Control Board will consist of a certified public accountant; an expert in investigation, financial auditing, or corporate compliance; a licensed attorney; an expert in the cannabis industry; and a licensed physician.
In the latest ordinance that was tabled by the tribal council earlier this month, amendments to the Cherokee Code Chapter 17 for medical marijuana regulation were listed, which included licensing application process, buffer zones from schools and community centers as well as conditions for an introductory period.
Tribal land belonging to the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (and its operating arm Kituwah, LLC) exists within both the states of Tennessee and North Carolina; neither state has legalized marijuana but legislation is in the works at both states’ general assemblies.
Marijuana legalization has a complicated past dating back to the mid-90s when California first legalized the medical use of marijuana. Currently, within the U.S. there are 18 states that allow adult use for recreational marijuana and 36 states that allow medical marijuana. It is not approved under federal law, which also means banks are not yet federally protected to provide services to marijuana growers or sellers in states where it is legalized, but marijuana banking reform is also in the works in Washington, D.C.
The EBCI Tribal Council is expected to meet again next month.