COMMENTARY: Addressing allegations against medical cannabis project

by Jul 11, 2023OPINIONS0 comments

Note: This letter to the community, dated Monday, July 10, was provided to the One Feather for publication.

Dear EBCI community,

I am writing to you as the Chairwoman of the Qualla Enterprises, LLC Board of Managers. We are united in this response. Four of us are enrolled EBCI (Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians) members and all of us are members of the Western North Carolina community. Tribal leadership has tasked us with overseeing and managing the historic EBCI medical cannabis project, and we have embraced that challenge with the diligence and zeal that each of us puts into our professional careers.

Qualla Enterprises operates consistently with the laws of the EBCI and is entirely owned by the EBCI for the benefit of enrolled members. Since beginning operations last year, Qualla Enterprises has made remarkable strides despite significant obstacles. It is poised to begin retail sales while following best practices in cultivation, corporate governance, and Tribal oversight, all while honoring its financial commitment from the EBCI.

In recent weeks, false and unsubstantiated allegations have been made in the press and on social media regarding the business operations of Qualla Enterprises. These accusations are not rooted in truth. These accusations are disappointing and harmful to the reputation of Qualla Enterprises, its employees, and the Tribe, its sole shareholder.

Adhering to the Cherokee Code, all of Qualla Enterprises’ corporate information is made available to Tribal Council as they see fit. Qualla Enterprises is currently undergoing an audit of its finances according to certified accounting standards with an expertise in medical cannabis. Qualla Enterprises has even presented reports to the community via the Cherokee One Feather, as we know that it is extremely important that everyone understands where this start-up business stands. When the EBCI makes an investment of this magnitude, Qualla Enterprises recognizes how important it is that the people understand how it directly affects them and the financial standing of the Tribe.

Just over a week ago, Qualla provided updated and detailed financials, projections, and other important data about the cannabis project to Tribal Council as well as to the Principal Chief’s office. These financials detail the entirety of Qualla Enterprises’ spending down to the last penny. The associated financial projections and budgeting detail the plans for Qualla Enterprises’ spending over the next several months to ensure that we maximize its profitability in a fiscally responsible manner. This information is available at:

As we require more funding to continue business operations, and to not freeze hiring or lay off workers (67 employees total, 73 percent are enrolled members), it is important for the community to understand where these funds are being used and where future investments would be made.

There is too much misinformation surrounding this project in the community. This information hinders Qualla Enterprises and is detrimental to enrolled members. As the Board, our duties are only to the success of the cannabis project and to the generations of Cherokee people who stand to benefit from the tremendous economic and societal opportunities this cannabis project brings.

We will never stop working as hard as we can to make this project successful. The future of our people deserves as much.


Thank you for your attention.

Carolyn R. West

Qualla Enterprises, LLC Board of Managers