CHEROKEE, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — About three hours west of Charlotte, on the Cherokee Indian Reservation, you will soon be able to buy and use marijuana legally.
But even before tribal members voted last month to legalize recreational use, medical marijuana was a large topic of discussion.
The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians has since opened up patient card applications for medical marijuana statewide, but there are still questions on what will happen once that marijuana — recreational or medicinal — goes off the reservation.
The answers to those questions are still being figured out.
“I’ve represented folks that have come from California or one of these states and they have marijuana cards, and they bring their medical marijuana,” said Mark Jetton, a lawyer with Jetton & Meredith in Charlotte. “I’ve represented numerous cases like that. They get pulled over, show their card and the officers says, ‘Thank you very much, but it doesn’t hold salt in our state.’”
The reality is, that outside of the Cherokee Indian Reservation, possession of marijuana of any kind is considered illegal in North Carolina.
Jetton noted that even doctors could come into some trouble for even prescribing marijuana – what’s become a nationwide issue.
Numerous studies have shown a hesitancy for medical providers to prescribe marijuana, partly due to federal law, the potential of jeopardizing the ability of a doctor to prescribe medication at all, or due to the lack of evidence that it could help for a certain condition.
Queen City News reached out to several medical providers and organizations about this. Those providers and organizations either did not get back on our request or had no comment or position on the matter.
The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians sent Queen City News a statement noting they are still working on legislation for marijuana regulation on their tribal lands.
But once off tribal lands, that could present an issue, according to Jetton.
“Different district attorneys and different counties are taking different stances on whether they’re going to prosecute marijuana or not,” said Jetton.
Queen City News reached out to one of the smaller counties where Charlotte-area residents may likely travel through if they do purchase medicinal or recreational marijuana on the Cherokee Indian Reservation.
The Jackson County Sheriff’s Office, where part of the Cherokee Indian Reservation is located, noted that marijuana would likely not be a major focus for them, noting that any possible uptick in marijuana charges could come as a result of regular traffic stops.