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First Medical Cannabis Crop Harvest Begins in North Carolina

According to The Charlotte ObserverThe Qualla Boundary is the location of the cultivation site. The tribe will also begin its first harvest Nov. 18 and plan to open the biggest medical marijuana dispensary in state in 2023. It will be in an abandoned building that was once used for bingo. “I’m really proud of my tribe taking this step, one with the betterment of this community in mind,” said general manager of Qualla Enterprises LLC, Forrest Parker.

The cannabis business is expected to create 400 to 500 new jobs (with “several hundred” applications already received for various positions), which will increase the EBCI’s total employment number to 7,500. “Most special to me is the employment opportunity,” Parker said. “We can teach them skills they can use for the rest of their lives in what is a very well-paying industry.” Over the summer, the EBCI employed about 40 people to work on cultivation, with about 80% of them members of the tribe.

The EBCI’s Tribal Council approved Ordinance No. The Ordinance 539 legalized medical cannabis in tribal areas on August 20,21. Far beyond the state’s progress on medical cannabis legislation, the Tribal Council saw cannabis as a benefit for medical patients. “The Council’s approval of a medical marijuana ordinance is a testament to the changing attitudes toward legal marijuana and a recognition of the growing body of evidence that supports cannabis as medicine, particularly for those with debilitating conditions like cancer and chronic pain,” said Principal Chief Richard Sneed.

The EBCI website states that the tribe will manage all production aspects. “It all begins as a seed…and develops into the plant that is the basis to all cannabis. All of the products sold by EBCI Farms are sourced from EBCI Farms. Everything from seed to sale begins here,” the website states. At the moment, they plan to produce cannabis flower and pre-rolls as well edibles, concentrated, topicals, and concentrates.

“It’s a vertical market. It needs to be planted. It must be cultivated. It must be harvested. Then, we have to make it into something usable. It must be packaged and moved through the entire product network to get it there. It’s a lot of people,” Parker told ABC13 News.

The ECBI also has its own Cannabis Control Board, which consists of five healthcare and law enforcement experts, to manage the tribe’s cannabis regulations. The current rules allow non-tribal members to purchase up to 1 ounce of cannabis each day. This is not allowed to exceed six ounces per month. The limit is 2,500 mg of THC per product, not more than 10,000 in one month.

Oneida Indian Nation, a New York-based cannabis company, announced that it will launch a business selling seed to sale cannabis in 2023. Also in New York, the Saint Regis (Akwesasne) Mohawk Tribe partnered with actor Jim Belushi to open a dispensary on Oct. 27, called Belushi’s Farm Akwesasne.

Seneca Nation of Indians has also revealed that it is building a marijuana dispensary in Niagara Falls in New York. It will open its doors in February 2023. “After extensive research and planning, the Seneca Nation is excited to create a new, Nation-owned business in the growing and competitive cannabis market,” said Seneca Nation President Rickey Armstrong Sr.

There are many tribe-owned and operated cannabis dispensaries throughout the country already, including Mountain Source Santa Ysabel operated by the Iipay Nation Tribe (located northeast of San Diego), to the Paiute-owned NuWu Cannabis Marketplace in Nevada, and the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe’s Joint Rivers dispensary in Washington State.

The Indigenous Cannabis Industry Association (ICIA) hosted the National Indigenous Cannabis Policy Summit on Nov. 15-16 in Washington, D.C., which covered a variety of topics in relation to create solutions to common challenges that tribes face in the industry. “The Summit brings together Tribal leaders, elected and government officials, business, healthcare, veterans groups, and advocacy organizations to provide solutions to the most pressing challenges and opportunities growing for Indian Country,” the event website states.