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Medical marijuana is now legal on Cherokee land in Western NC. It’s a first in the state.

The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians has approved growing, selling and using medical marijuana on its lands in Western North Carolina, tribal leaders said Thursday, making their territory the first place in North Carolina where medical cannabis is legal.

The tribal council’s approval of a medical marijuana ordinance testifies to “the changing attitudes toward legal marijuana and a recognition of the growing body of evidence that supports cannabis as medicine,” Principal Chief Richard Sneed said in a statement.

Medical marijuana is particularly vital “for those with debilitating conditions like cancer and chronic pain,” he said.

Medical use of cannabis products is legal in 36 states and four U.S. territories, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Eighteen states, two territories and the District of Columbia legally allow small amounts of marijuana for adult recreational use, according to the conference.

During his 13 years in the state legislature, Rep. Kelly Alexander of Charlotte has introduced many bills to legalize marijuana, including one this year that also stands little or no chance of becoming law, The Charlotte Observer previously reported.

He’s more optimistic about Senate Bill 711, which would legalize medical marijuana in the state. In July, the Senate Finance Committee approved the bill, which has bipartisan support. The bill was still in committee as of Wednesday.


The Cherokee maintain a sovereign nation in Western North Carolina, about an hour west of Asheville, known as the Qualla Boundary. Though the tribe “has relationships with” the state and federal governments, according to its website, the tribe “is a sovereign nation, meaning it has its own laws, elections, government, institutions, and the like.” [Read More @ The Charlotte Observer]

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