Cherokee cannabis business shows forward movement – Smoky Mountain News

After months of stalemate, the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians appears ready to advance its cannabis enterprise.

During its Jan. 4 meeting, Tribal Council passed a long-debated funding resolution for Qualla Enterprises and introduced an ordinance that would legalize cannabis use for adults 21 and older. While the dispensary on Bingo Loop Road is not yet open, signs are up along U.S. 19 pointing the way to the Great Smoky Cannabis Company entrance around the back of the old bingo hall. 

Between March 2022 and December 2023, the tribe invested $34 million in its cannabis enterprise — a large amount that nevertheless fell short of the additional $50 million the company had asked for in December 2022. A year ago, Qualla Enterprises had expected to begin retail sales of medical marijuana by summer 2023, but so far it has yet to produce any revenues. This is due not only to its uncertain funding situation but also to the fact that transporting cannabis between the farm on Coopers Creek and the dispensary on the main Qualla Boundary requires crossing a short distance of county-controlled road, where cannabis is still illegal. 

When Principal Chief Michell Hicks took office in October,

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