NC’s first cannabis dispensary opens, Cherokee Co. DA vows to ‘continue to enforce state law’

Sounds like she has political ambitions to CLR and this is a great way to get some state and national attention.

So far it’s working.

Her argument is one that many other DA’s have come to a balanced position on but it appears she wants to push the envelope to see what eventuates


District Attorney Ashley Hornsby Welch said she respects the EBCI’s tribal sovereignty, but plans to enforce North Carolina state law, which prohibits the cultivation, distribution and possession of marijuana. Welch is the chief criminal prosecutor in Prosecutorial District 43, which includes Cherokee, Clay, Graham, Haywood, Jackson, Macon and Swain counties.

“The mission, duty and privilege of the 43rd Prosecutorial District is to enforce state laws. We do not pick certain laws to enforce and ignore others. On April 20, the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians will open a marijuana, cannabis dispensary on tribal land. Tribes have inherent authority as sovereign nations, subject only to federal, not state, law,” Welch said in the April 3 statement.

Ashley Hornsby Welch is the district attorney for prosecutorial district 43, which includes Haywood, Jackson, Macon, Swain, Cherokee, Clay and Graham counties.

Marijuana is currently legal on EBCI land, as two referendums indicated broad support for both the medical and recreational sale of the drug. Tribal Council has passed a resolution allowing the sale of medical marijuana but has not yet passed a resolution amending current tribal laws to allow for the sale of recreational marijuana.

While medically legalized under tribal law, the drug remains illegal under North Carolina state law and under federal law. The dispensary will be the first in the state to sell marijuana.

“We respect tribal sovereignty, and we respect the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians’ right to enact tribal laws. In North Carolina, the cultivation, distribution and possession of marijuana remains illegal, and we will continue to enforce state law off Qualla Boundary,” the statement continued.

Prosecutorial District 43 spokesperson Quintin Ellison declined to comment further on the statement or the EBCI dispensary.

The Citizen Times reached out to the office of District Attorney Seth Banks of Avery, Madison, Mitchell, Watauga and Yancey County and the office of District Attorney Todd Williams of Buncombe County but did not hear back before press time.

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