Published On: Fri, Dec 4th, 2015

“Recreational use” dooms cannabis study


Council upholds Chief Lambert’s cannabis study veto





The recreational use portion of a proposed cannabis feasibility study for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians ended up being the study’s demise.  In a complete reversal, Tribal Council voted 11-1 (88-12 in weighted vote) to uphold Principal Chief Lambert’s veto of Res. No. 40 (2015) which would have authorized a feasibility study to look into the “issues and impacts associated with legalization of cannabis” on tribal lands.  Tribal Council upheld Chief Lambert’s veto (Monday, Nov. 23) during its regular meeting on Thursday, Dec. 3.  Birdtown Rep. Travis Smith was the lone representative voting against upholding the veto.

At the beginning of the discussion on the veto on Thursday, Chief Lambert’s veto letter to Tribal Council Chairman Bill Taylor was read.  “I have stated my opposition to the recreational use of drugs many times, and this includes marijuana,” the letter reads.  “At a critical time in our Tribe’s history in dealing with all the human misery associated with illegal recreational use of drugs, I cannot, in good conscience, sign this legislation.”

On Thursday, Chief Lambert commented, “I’m not going to stand by and allow for people to suffer with drugs.  I know a lot of the discussion that comes around this issue has to do with medicinal use.  I’m not opposed to that.”

He added, “I cannot, in good conscience, stand by and spend one dime of money for studying recreational use.  I’ve seen too many mothers and families who have been hurt by recreational use of drugs.”

Chairman Taylor outlined the procedure for the veto hearing at the beginning of the discussion, “We took this resolution last month.  It was debated, and it was discussed on the floor.  Today, this will take place just like a protest hearing.”

Painttown Rep. Tommye Saunooke made the motion to uphold the veto which was seconded by Painttown Rep. Marie Junaluska.

Prior to the vote, Yellowhill Rep. B. Ensley said the overwhelming majority of people in his community support medical marijuana use, and he tasked the EBCI Health Board to look into legalizing cannabis on tribal lands for that purpose.

The original resolution, Res. No. 40 (2015), was submitted by a group of EBCI tribal members known as Common Sense Cannabis.  After Council’s action on the veto on Thursday, Joey Owle released the following statement on behalf of the group, “We still see a win coming from this Tribal Council session.  We will continue to seek support for ‘medical marijuana’ through future legislative action.  We appreciate all the support that has been given to this movement and contacting your Council members to share your thoughts on the cannabis subject.”

– One Feather editor Robert Jumper contributed to this report.