Medical marijuana will soon be available legally to some people living within the borders of the Tar Heel State, and they won’t even need to get a North Carolina Marijuana Card to do it.
The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI) voted on August 5 to make growing, selling, and using medical marijuana legal on its land in Western North Carolina, a sovereign nation about an hour west of Asheville.
Medical marijuana is almost certainly still on the way to North Carolina itself. State Representative Kelly Alexander, who has worked for years to advance legalization bills in the State Legislature, told the Charlotte Observer that he is optimistic about the odds of passing Senate Bill 711, which would create the state’s version of a medical marijuana market. Nevertheless, and even with all of the work still to be done by the Tribal Council, it appears the Cherokee market will be a reality before the state’s version is established.
How Can the Cherokee Living Within North Carolina Establish Laws that Contradict the State’s?
Although Cherokee land is geographically within North Carolina, the tribe is actually a sovereign nation, with its own laws and elections.
Still, that doesn’t mean there won’t be work to do to make sure there aren’t conflicts between the tribe and the state in the execution of the market.
“We want to make sure this is done right because we are going to be under a microscope just because of the unique situation it is here with our sovereignty versus what the law is in the state,” Jeremy Wilson, the tribe’s Governmental Affairs Liaison, told WMYA, Asheville’s MyNetworkTV affiliate.
“There will be some work that will be needed to be done with the State of North Carolina. But we're confident that that won't be too much of a hurdle. We've had discussions with some of the folks down in Raleigh, and they're supportive,” Richard Sneed, the tribe’s Principal Chief, told WMYA.
Wilson said that the tribe’s decision to start a medical marijuana program “gives us the opportunity to showcase to North Carolina how it can be done and done efficiently and effectively.”
Details of EBCI’s Medical Marijuana Program Still in Development
Although the tribes’ announcement has just been made, we do know some details about how their medical marijuana program will be administered.
What We Know About EBCI’s Program
The Charlotte Observer reports that the EBCI plans to establish a Cannabis Control Board that is “comprised of five individuals with expertise in healthcare, law enforcement, the cannabis industry and business, [which] will control licensing for the cultivation, processing and sale of marijuana.”
The board will also be responsible for granting marijuana cards to eligible patients over the age of 21.
Finally, we know the purchasing limits that the program will impose. Patients will be able to buy 1) up to one ounce of marijuana a day, but no more than six ounces per month, or 2) medical cannabis products with 2,500 milligrams of THC a day, not to exceed 10,000 milligrams a month.
What’s Still Unknown about the EBCI Program
While we know the program will be limited to patients with qualifying conditions, we do not yet know what those conditions will be.
Wilson told WMYA that patients will need to submit records to the Cannabis Control Board that show they have a qualifying condition, and the board “would deem them approved or not approved for the purposes of receiving medicinal marijuana.”
According to the Observer, the timeline for finalizing and opening ECBI’s program has not been defined, and we don’t know yet if people who are not members of the tribe will be able to get marijuana cards from the Cannabis Control Board.
The Times, They Have A-Changed
The ECBI’s vote is just one more example of how dramatically public opinion about marijuana has done an about face. The popularity of and enthusiasm for medical marijuana have grown to the point that officials like Sneed feel comfortable expressing their excitement over cannabis legalization.
Sneed told the Observer that the vote is yet another sign of “the changing attitudes toward legal marijuana and a recognition of the growing body of evidence that supports cannabis as medicine… [especially] for those with debilitating conditions like cancer and chronic pain.”
“It's surreal right now,” Sneed told the Observer. “Passing this ordinance is just the first step, but we are excited to begin building this program. I know that I reflect the sentiments of many patients in expressing my pride and gratitude for the leadership demonstrated by our Council on this issue.”
And evidence of this change in public opinion is widely visible outside of tribal lands as well. Medical marijuana markets have been established in 36 states now, and research shows that more than 90% of Americans now support legalization in some form.
North Carolina Wants Medical Marijuana Also
And North Carolina is no exception to the overall national trend towards supporting medical marijuana.
Raleigh NBC affiliate WRAL reported that polls going back several years show support for medical marijuana here at between 69 and 80%.
David McLennan, a political science professor at Meredith College, told WRAL “Seems to me that North Carolinians generally favor medical marijuana being legalized.”
Why Wait Any Longer to Start Finding Relief?
You might have to wait for the State Legislature to catch up with the ECBI before you can buy medical marijuana, but that’s no reason to wait any longer than you have to.
Reserve an evaluation with one of our doctors today, and we’ll book an appointment for you just as soon as North Carolina’s medical marijuana market is up and running. You’ll even save $25 off the cost of your evaluation!
You and your new doctor will discuss your condition and options in a virtual telemedicine appointment using your smartphone or computer. Together, you’ll discuss your condition and treatment options, and how medical marijuana can help bring you the relief you’ve been missing out on.
Doctors Who Care. Relief You Can Trust.
Helping everyone achieve wellness safely and conveniently through increased access to medical marijuana. Our focus on education, inclusion, and acceptance will reduce stigma for our patients by providing equal access to timely information and compassionate care.
If you have any questions, call us at (833) 781-7320, or simply book a medical marijuana evaluation to start getting relief you can trust today!
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