The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians has begun harvesting medical marijuana and expects to open the largest medical cannabis retail store in the U.S. next year, the tribal official in charge of the operation told The Charlotte Observer on Friday.
“I’m really proud of my tribe taking this step, one with the betterment of this community in mind,” said Forrest Parker, general manager of Qualla Enterprises LLC.
Qualla Enterprises is the tribal subsidiary over its budding medical marijuana business on Cherokee land in western North Carolina. The crop is grown in greenhouses.
The tribe will have a more certain opening date for its dispensary around Jan. 1, Parker said.
That’s also when workers will begin retrofitting the old tribal bingo building for the store, he said.
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The Cherokee’s medical marijuana operation will eventually employ 400 to 500 workers, adding to a tribal workforce that is already one of the largest in the state at about 7,500 employees, Parker said.
The tribe has already received several hundred applications for medical marijuana jobs, including from neighboring states, he said.
About 40 workers are on the job, roughly 80% of them tribal members, Parker said. Marijuana