Harvesting of the first medicinal cannabis crop begins in North Carolina

According to The Charlotte Observer, the acreage is located in the eastern part of the state in The Qualla Boundary. In addition to beginning the first harvest on November 18, the tribe also plans to open the state’s largest medical cannabis dispensary sometime in 2023, which will be located in an old building previously used for bingo. “I’m really proud that my tribe is taking this step that has the betterment of this community in mind,” said General Manager of Qualla Enterprises LLC, Forrest Parker.

The cannabis business is expected to add 400 to 500 new jobs (with “several hundred” applications already being received for various positions), bringing the EBCI’s total workforce to 7,500. “The special thing for me is the employment opportunity,” said Parker. “We can teach them skills that they can use for the rest of their lives in a very well-paying industry.” Over the summer, EBCI employed about 40 cultivation staff, about 80% of whom were members of the tribe.

The EBCI Tribal Council approved Regulation No. 539 legalizing medicinal cannabis on tribal lands in August 2021. Far beyond the state’s advances in medical cannabis legislation, the tribal council saw cannabis as a benefit for medical patients. “The Council’s approval of a medical marijuana regulation is a testament to changing attitudes towards legal marijuana and a recognition of the growing body of evidence supporting cannabis as a medicine, particularly for people with debilitating conditions such as cancer and chronic pain,” said Principal Richard Sneed.

According to the EBCI cannabis website, the tribe will control all aspects of production. “It all starts as a seed… and grows into the plant that is the foundation of all cannabis. EBCI Farms will be the source for all of its products sold to the public. Everything starts here, from sowing to sale,” the website says. Currently, the Company plans to manufacture cannabis flower, pre-rolls, edibles, concentrates and topicals.

“It’s a vertical market. We have to plant it. We must cultivate it. We must reap it. We have to process it. We have to package it and move through this whole network of products and get it there. It’s a lot of people,” Parker told ABC13 News.

The ECBI also has its own Cannabis Control Board, made up of five health and law enforcement professionals, to manage the tribe’s cannabis regulations. Current rules dictate that non-tribal members can purchase up to one ounce of cannabis per day, but no more than six ounces in a month. This also extends to a limit of 2,500 milligrams of THC in products per day, but no more than 10,000 milligrams in a month.

New York-based Oneida Indian Nation announced in September that it would launch a seed-for-sale cannabis business sometime in 2023. Also in New York, the Saint Regis (Akwesasne) Mohawk tribe teamed up with actor Jim Belushi to open a pharmacy Oct. 27, called Belushi’s Farm Akwesasne.

In addition, the Seneca Nation of Indians announced construction of a cannabis dispensary in the city of Niagara Falls, New York, also scheduled to open in February 2023. “After extensive research and planning, the Seneca Nation is excited to create a new nation-owned company in the growing and competitive cannabis market,” said Rickey Armstrong Sr., President of the Seneca Nation.

There are already many tribal-owned and operated cannabis dispensaries across the country, from Mountain Source Santa Ysabel, operated by the Iipay Nation tribe (just north of San Diego), to Paiute-owned NuWu Cannabis Marketplace in Nevada and the Tribe of the Muckleshoot Indians Joint Rivers Dispensary in Washington State.

The Indigenous Cannabis Industry Association (ICIA) hosted the National Indigenous Cannabis Policy Summit on November 15th and 16th in Washington, DC, which addressed a variety of topics related to developing solutions to common challenges facing strains in the industry are confronted with. “The summit will bring 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 the Indian country,” reads the event’s website.

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