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First Medical Marijuana Harvest in North Carolina Comes from Cherokee Tribe

A Cherokee Tribe in North Carolina is taking the lead in the medical marijuana industry in the state, as they have already begun harvesting medical marijuana and plan on opening a large medical marijuana retail store next year.

Medical Marijuana In North Carolina

Senate Bill 711, which aims to regulate medical marijuana in North Carolina, is still pending, which means that medical marijuana is still inaccessible to people residing in the state. The Cherokee tribe is a sovereign nation within North Carolina and has its own laws, governments and institutions. It is because of its independence from the state laws that it is able to be the first territory in North Carolina where medical marijuana is legal.

This follows a decision by the tribal council last year which approved the growing, selling and use of medical marijuana on their territory. The decision was steered by the growing evidence that supports the medical benefits of marijuana for conditions such as cancer and chronic pain.

Medical Marijuana In North Carolina

Cherokee Tribe Medical Marijuana Plans

The Cherokee medical marijuana operation is creating employment opportunities for many within the tribe, and they are looking to employ 400-500 workers once the company is fully operational. The tribe’s EBCI Cannabis Board will regulate the medical marijuana retail store by issuing cards that will allow people to purchase marijuana. To apply, qualified patients will have to be over the age of 21.

Cherokee leaders have confirmed that non-tribal members will also be able to purchase from the dispensary as long as they meet the criteria and have the cards issued by the board. Patients will only be able to purchase one ounce of cannabis a day without exceeding the limit of six ounces a month. In other words, they will be limited to 2,500 milligrams of THC in a product per day, not to exceed 10,000 milligrams per month.

Native American Tribes Taking The Lead

Sovereign Native American tribes don’t face set regulations regarding marijuana laws. Because of this, these tribes are free to legalize, grow and sell marijuana within their territories. This led some tribes to easily enter the cannabis industry. One of the first tribes to take advantage of this was the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe: their territory is at the northern edge of New York along the Canadian border. The tribe had been working on regulations since 2019. When the state finally legalized marijuana, they were ready to begin sales before the state.

The Shinnecock Indian Nation on Long Island has also broken ground on a new medical marijuana dispensary that is set to open early next year. The dispensary will be the first of its kind, fully owned by the tribe. The tribe is in partnership with TILT Holdings, a provider of cannabis development.

Native American tribes entering the marijuana industry allows for job creation for tribal members and will generate economic growth for the tribes.

Native American Tribes Taking The Lead


The Cherokee tribe is taking advantage of their independence from state laws by entering into the cannabis market while the rest of North Carolina awaits bills to be passed. This is something other sovereign tribes have also embarked on, which has given them a head start and ensures that tribal members benefit from the economic opportunities found in this growing industry.

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