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Cherokee Nation Legalizes Marijuana in North Carolina: What You Need to Know

In the United States, Native Americans enjoy a certain level of independence and self-governing freedoms. In some cases, they may make their own rules that are totally at odds with those of the surrounding jurisdictions. In many ways, a nation of Native Americans is much like a literal independent country operating within the United States. This level of independence was made adamantly clear when the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians passed a referendum legalizing marijuana – creating a so-called “pot haven” within the boundaries of North Carolina. But what does this mean for the average marijuana consumer? Does this mean you can now legally buy marijuana in the Tar Heel State?

EBCI Becomes First North Carolina Jurisdiction to Legalize Marijuana

In September 2023, the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI) voted to legalize marijuana within its borders. The successful referendum makes this jurisdiction the first of its kind in North Carolina to legalize the drug in all its forms. It was a landslide victory, with 70% of voters approving the measure.

What Happens Now?

Even though voters have expressed their support for the legalization of marijuana, there is no guarantee this will happen. That said, tribal leaders are still likely to follow the will of their voters when they discuss the issue at a later date. Note that the legalization still has certain limitations, as the referendum specifically stated that only people over the age of 21 would have the freedom to purchase marijuana on tribal land. In addition, it is worth noting that this freedom would extend not only to enrolled members of the EBCI but also to the general public. This means that, theoretically, North Carolina residents would have the ability to travel to an EBCI reservation and purchase marijuana without technically breaking any laws.

Can the Government Stop This From Happening?

There is also the possibility that the government will step in and prevent the EBCI from doing this. Various politicians, including senators, have publicly stated that they intend to stop this from becoming a reality. In response, EBCI representatives have stated that any attempt to stop the legalization effort would represent government interference with the federally recognized sovereignty of Indian tribes.

Where Can I Find a Qualified Defense Attorney in North Carolina?

While the recent Cherokee referendum certainly provides plenty of possibilities for those who wish to consume marijuana legally in North Carolina, there are still many legal complexities involved. Even if you attempt to respect the law and purchase marijuana on Cherokee territory, there is still the potential for criminal penalties. If you have been charged with marijuana offenses in North Carolina, consider getting in touch with an experienced criminal defense law firm such as Coastal South Law. During a consultation, we can help you determine the most appropriate defense strategy.




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