North Carolina’s First Cannabis Dispensary to Open on Cherokee Tribal Lands

On April 20th, the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI) will make history by launching North Carolina’s inaugural cannabis dispensary on their sovereign Qualla Boundary tribal lands. Named the Great Smoky Cannabis Company, the dispensary marks a pioneering step in providing regulated access to medical marijuana products within the state.

According to Qualla Enterprises, LLC, which oversees the tribe’s business operations, only patients with valid medical cannabis cards issued by the EBCI Cannabis Control Board will initially be permitted to make purchases. However, the dispensary plans to extend reciprocity to out-of-state and other tribal medical cardholders as well.

“With a commitment to quality, compassion, and education, Great Smoky Cannabis Co. aims to provide patients with safe and regulated access to medicinal cannabis products,” stated Qualla Enterprises in a press release. The initial product lineup will feature flower, vapes, edibles, topicals, and more, with plans for continued expansion.

The EBCI’s proactive approach to establishing a legal cannabis market comes as North Carolina’s state legislators have yet to pass comprehensive medical marijuana legislation. By exercising its tribal sovereignty, the Cherokee nation is spearheading access to alternative treatments on its 57,000-acre Qualla Boundary territory.

Financial projections from independent analysts suggest the Great Smoky Cannabis Company could generate over $200 million in gross revenue within its first year from medical sales alone. If adult-use cannabis is eventually permitted, that figure could potentially skyrocket to nearly $400 million.

Beyond economic opportunities, the EBCI views the cannabis venture as a means to honor the plant’s historical medicinal roots within Cherokee culture and empower its matrilineal society. As dispensary chairperson Carolyn West stated, “We have many females who work on the farm… I think they’re excited that we can possibly be making history, being the first tribe [and government] in North Carolina to legalize marijuana.”

With overwhelming community interest and a newly operational cultivation facility, the Great Smoky Cannabis Company is poised to blaze a trail for cannabis access in a state where progressive drug policies have lagged behind much of the nation.


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