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Eastern Band of Cherokee dispensary will not sell recreational marijuana on 4/20

Workers on the Qualla Boundary are getting the Great Smoky Cannabis Dispensary ready for the gre
Lilly Knoepp
Workers on the Qualla Boundary are getting the Great Smoky Cannabis Dispensary ready for the grand opening.

Plans for the state’s first recreational marijuana sales are on hold as the Eastern Band of Cherokee announces their marijuana dispensary will only sell medical marijuana during its grand opening. The Great Smoky Cannabis Company dispensary will be the first in the state.

A joint statement issued by tribal leadership said there are still too many questions about the implementation of recreational marijuana to start sales in April.

“This is a process that cannot be rushed; there are numerous factors to consider so that we are able to make the best decisions as these are decisions that can have significant long-term impacts on our tribe,” the statement reads, according to the Cherokee One Feather.
“Work is continuing to progress with the executive and legislative branches, and we are committed to make sure that any administrative efforts and legislation concerning recreational cannabis use is implemented responsibly. We will continue to provide updates as we move forward.”

The Great Smoky Dispensary features three drive thru windows.
Lilly Knoepp
The Great Smoky Dispensary features three drive thru windows.

The Eastern Band of Cherokee announced the tribe’s dispensary’s open date in February. Tribal Council discussed recreational marijuana in February, but it has not moved forward. In January, tribal council passed a long-awaited resolution to continue funding the tribe’s cannabis efforts, extending a loan to Qualla Enterprises LLC, the company that manages the growth and sale of the tribe’s marijuana.

The April Tribal Council Agenda does not include the topic, but there is a resolution to discuss requirements imposed on Qualla Enterprises.

The resolution will be able to move forward if the additional reports are accepted by the tribe.

In August, an investigation from the Office of Internal Audit and Ethics found that a now-former board member of Qualla Enterprises violated ethical standards by soliciting gratuities and favors from Sovereign Solutions Carolina, LLC. A proposed resolution requires a re-negotiated management and consulting agreement with Sovereign Solutions. The resolution was tabled introduced in February and then tabled as the Council awaits additional documentation of compliance by Qualla Enterprises.

Qualla Enterprises announced that the Great Smoky Cannabis Company will open its doors at 10am on April 20 at Bingo Loop Rd in Cherokee for medical use. Individuals who want to purchase medical marijuana must have a patient card.

Patient card details and applications are available on the Cannabis Control Board website. The dispensary website also noted that product menus will be available soon.

Do you have more questions about how medical marijuana is able to be sold on the Qualla Boundary? Check out this FAQ on the topic.

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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