EBCI Cannabis Survey: 64 percent ‘strongly support’

by Apr 23, 2024NEWS ka-no-he-da0 comments

Cannabis plants are shown in a hoop house at the farm operated by Qualla Enterprises, LLC, an entity of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. In a recent survey by EBCI Public Health and Human Services, 64 percent of respondents indicated that they ‘strongly support’ legalization of cannabis on EBCI tribal lands. (SCOTT MCKIE B.P./One Feather photo)



One Feather Asst. Editor


CHEROKEE, N.C. – The Great Smoky Cannabis Company opened its door for the first legal sales of medical cannabis in the State of North Carolina on Saturday, April 20.  The day before, officials with the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI) Public Health and Human Services Division (PHHS) released results from a survey regarding cannabis legalization on the Qualla Boundary – the tribal lands of the EBCI.

The Great Smoky Cannabis Company is operated by Qualla Enterprises, LLC, an entity of the EBCI.

The survey respondents were asked, “How do you feel about legalizing cannabis in the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI) Community?”  They responded as follows:

  • Strongly support – 338 (64.14 percent)
  • Strongly oppose – 68 (12.90 percent)
  • Somewhat support – 63 (11.95 percent)
  • Somewhat oppose – 21 (3.98 percent)
  • Neutral – 37 (7.02 percent)

A total of 529 people completed the survey with 394 (74.62 percent) being EBCI tribal members, 13 (2.46 percent) enrolled with another federally recognized tribe, 10 (1.89 percent) EBCI first descendant, 91 (17.23 percent) not a member of a federally recognized tribe, and 20 (3.79 percent) who listed ‘other’.  One person skipped this question entirely.

The age range of the respondents was as follows:

  • 18-24 years: 31 (5.87 percent)
  • 25-34 years: 106 (20.08 percent)
  • 35-44 years: 138 (26.14 percent)
  • 45-54 years: 122 (23.11 percent)
  • 55-64 years: 89 (16.86 percent)
  • 65+ years: 42 (7.95 percent)

The overwhelming majority of the respondents (459, 87.77 percent) responded that they work and/or live on the Qualla Boundary.

When asked if they currently use cannabis, 335 (63.33 percent) responded ‘no’.

Respondents were asked, “What are the potential advantages of legalizing cannabis in our community?” A total of 470 people answered this question with 59 choosing not to provide an answer.  Those results include:

  • Increased Tax Revenue – 340 (72.34 percent)
  • Reduced crime rate – 218 (46.38 percent)
  • Improved medical access – 354 (75.32 percent)
  • Increased tourism revenue – 314 (66.81 percent)
  • Economic opportunities and job creation – 391 (83.19 percent)
  • Reduced burden on the criminal justice system – 300 (63.83 percent)

Respondents were subsequently asked about disadvantages of legalization, and they provided the following answers with 366 people responding and 163 skipping the question:

  • Increased youth access and use – 264 (72.13 percent)
  • Public safety concerns – 144 (39.34 percent)
  • Negative impact on businesses and property values – 103 (28.14 percent)
  • Driving safety concerns – 228 (62.30 percent)
  • Public health concerns – 166 (45.36 percent)
  • Social and ethical concerns – 151 (41.26 percent)

The remaining two questions dealt with information and education on cannabis for the community.

A total of 490 people responded (39 skipped) to a question asking what information they would like to have regarding cannabis with the top three answers being:

  • The role of law enforcement in a legalized cannabis market – 298 (60.82 percent)
  • Legal regulations and licensing procedures – 290 (59.18 percent)
  • Economic impacts and community development – 287 (58.57 percent)

During opening day festivities for the Great Smoky Cannabis Company, Forrest Parker, Qualla Enterprises, LLC general manager, said, “We know how much healing exists in plant medicine, but we’re not solely in the business of cultivating cannabis.  We’re in the business of cultivating people.  We’re in the business of changing lives and creating opportunities for growth where it otherwise is severely limited.”

EBCI Beloved Woman Myrtle Driver Johnson, who purchased the first legal medical cannabis in the state on opening day, said, “It makes me feel good that now we can add cannabis to our Native American medicines…it is a great day for the Cherokee people today.”