COMMENTARY: Reasons to vote “yes” for adult use cannabis

by Sep 6, 2023OPINIONS0 comments



On Thursday, Sept. 7, the Cherokee people will cast a historic vote regarding the legalization of cannabis for adult use (persons 21 and over). Qualla Enterprises respectfully encourages a YES vote for the reasons below.

  1. Adult Use Cannabis Gives the Cherokee Another Opportunity to Lead.

Thirty years ago, the Cherokee People decided to build a casino. This was highly controversial at the time, in part because nowhere in the surrounding region allowed gaming. But we were not afraid to be different. Harrah’s Cherokee Casino has benefited this Tribe and its members in more ways than we ever imagined.

Adult Use Cannabis represents another opportunity for our people to lead. While multiple states and tribes across the United States have already legalized Adult Use Cannabis, nowhere in the surrounding region has done so. The Cherokee People can and should be first and reap the benefits of our courage and leadership.


  1. Adult Use Cannabis Will Create Hundreds of Cherokee Jobs.

Adult Use Cannabis will create 400 new and well-paying jobs right here in Cherokee. The majority of these jobs will be filled by enrolled members. Presently, 84 percent of Qualla’s cultivation employees are enrolled members, which represents the highest of any business owned by the Tribe.

The demand to work with Qualla is both overwhelming and humbling; Qualla has received hundreds of job applications, and that number grows each week. This makes sense because we are making history. Plus, when North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and other states eventually follow the Cherokee’s lead and legalize Adult Use Cannabis (as they will), our employees will have unrivaled experience.


  1. Adult Use Cannabis Has the Potential to Generate Extraordinary Revenue.

Qualla commissioned a third-party, HedgeRow Analysis, to study the economic opportunity for the Cherokee People from Adult Use Cannabis. The conclusions were staggering:

  • If the EBCI tribal government elects to distribute revenue in a manner like the casino revenue, then Adult Use Cannabis has the potential to generate payouts in the first year as high as $5,600. This amount is 75 percent larger than what payouts under a medical cannabis system only could be.
  • By the fifth year of Adult Use Cannabis, the payout could be as high as $12,000. This amount is 50 percent larger than what payouts under a medical cannabis-only system could be.

Adult Use Cannabis creates additional revenue because the system allows for many more customers than a medical-only system. But the same medical benefits are present—the products are literally the same. All cannabis, whether medical or adult use, is medicinal.


  1. North Carolina Loves and Already Uses Cannabis.

The latest statewide poll shows that 73 percent of North Carolina residents favor legal cannabis. Senate Bill 3 passed the North Carolina Senate by a 36-10 margin with bipartisan support.

Also, make no mistake about it—Cannabis is already here in North Carolina (and in South Carolina, in Tennessee, in Georgia, etc.). It has been for years. A recent study estimated that the illicit cannabis market in North Carolina alone was $3.2 billion in 2022.

Why not redirect some of that money to Cherokee and do so with cannabis that is tested, labeled, safe, and sold in childproof containers? Adult Use Cannabis allows us to do just that.


  1. Adult Use Cannabis Promotes Safety and Reduces Opioid Dependence.

Selling cannabis that has been tested, labeled, and placed in childproof containers is just one of many ways that Adult Use Cannabis promotes safety. Numerous studies have identified several other ways that Adult Use Cannabis actually decreases crime and promotes public health and order.

From the National Bureau of Economic Research (2021):

  • There is little evidence to suggest that Adult Use Legalization encourages the use of harder substances or violent criminal activity.”

From the Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization (2018):

  • Adult use legalization increased consumption of marijuana and reduced consumption of other drugs and both ordinary and binge alcohol.”
  • The concern that legalizing cannabis for recreational purposes may increase crime occupies a prominent position in the public debate about drugs. Our analysis suggests that such a concern is not justified.

From Ohio State Drug Enforcement and Policy Center (2022):

  • Much of the literature regarding the impact of marijuana legalization on crime shows promising effects, including decreases in violent and property crime, reductions in drug-related arrests, and an improvement in crime clearance rates.”

From the University of Pittsburgh School of Public Health (2021):

  • “Legalized Marijuana Linked to Decline in Opioid Emergencies”
  • “The four states with recreational cannabis laws experienced a 6% reduction in opioid-related emergency department visits for six months after the law went into effect, compared to the states that didn’t implement such laws.”
  • “States can fight the opioid epidemic by expanding access to opioid use disorder treatment and by decreasing opioid use with recreational cannabis laws.”

Cherokee Leadership. Job Creation. Revenue Generation. Public Safety. Reducing Opioid Use.

Please vote yes to legalize adult use cannabis on Sept. 7.