Great Smoky Cannabis Company to open only for sale of medical cannabis

by Mar 30, 2024NEWS ka-no-he-da0 comments


One Feather Asst. Editor


CHEROKEE, N.C. – The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI) is set to open the first cannabis dispensary in North Carolina. The Great Smoky Cannabis Company, operated by Qualla Enterprises, LLC – an EBCI tribal entity – will open to the public for sale of medical cannabis products only on Saturday, April 20 at 10 a.m.

The dispensary is located at 91 Bingo Loop Road in Cherokee, N.C.  in the same building that housed the now-defunct Cherokee Tribal Bingo.

EBCI voters overwhelmingly approved the idea of legalizing cannabis for adult-use (recreational) in a September 2023 referendum, but it has not been approved into the Cherokee Code yet.

The following question was posed on the Sept. 7, 2023 referendum, “Do you support legalizing the possession and use of cannabis for persons who are at least twenty-one (21) years old and require the EBCI Tribal Council to develop legislation to regulate the market?”

The referendum passed 2,464 (yes) to 1,057 (no).

Tabled Ord. No. 63 (2024) was submitted by the entirety of Dinilawigi (Tribal Council). A work session was held on the legislation on Feb. 28. The ordinance was not on the agenda for the March 7 session of Dinilawigi (Tribal Council), and it is not on the agenda for the scheduled session on April 4.

A ‘Joint Statement from Tribal Leadership’ was issued by EBCI leaders on the afternoon of Thursday, March 28.  It read, “Recently, it was announced that the Great Smoky Cannabis Company will open its doors on April 20, 2024, exclusively for medical cannabis purposes.  Since then, we have received several questions about the status of recreational use and where it stands today.

The referendum posed on Sept. 7, 2023, asked tribal members whether they would support legalizing the possession and use of cannabis for individuals aged 21 and older.  Additionally, it required the EBCI Tribal Council to pass legislation to regulate the marijuana market.”

The statement continues, “With 70 percent of voters in favor, we acknowledge the significance of this vote.  Since then, we have approached this responsibility seriously so that any legislation concerning cannabis is practical and thoughtful.  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.

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.”

Information from Qualla Enterprises, LLC, the EBCI tribal entity which runs the Great Smoky Cannabis Company, states, “The world-class dispensary is a seed-to-sale operation.  Upon opening, this facility promises to revolutionize the landscape of medical cannabis on the Qualla Boundary.  With a commitment to quality, compassion, and education, Great Smoky Mountain Cannabis Co. aims to provide patients with safe and regulated access to medicinal cannabis products.  The new dispensary will open with high-quality tested products – including flower, vape products, edibles, topicals, and more – carefully curated to meet the diverse needs of patients.  Product selection will continue to grow and evolve each month.”

Sales at the store are only for those who are 21-years-old and older who have a medical cannabis card.  Qualla Enterprises, LLC states, “The medical cannabis patient cards are issued by the EBCI Cannabis Control Board.  They will also extend reciprocity to individuals with out-of-state medical cards or other tribal medical cannabis cards.”

Qualla Enterprises, LLC has a total of 93 employees with 82 percent (76) being EBCI tribal members.  The employees work in the following areas: administration (9), cultivation (50), production/processing (4), retail (18), and security (12).