12 May 2016
The wonderfully named Smoky Mountain News reports
Cherokee took another step along the road toward legalizing medicinal marijuana with a vote last week to start drafting legislation that would let the drug be produced and prescribed on the Qualla Boundary.
“If I can sit here and I can do anything to alleviate the pain or the suffering of anyone who is diabetic, has cancer, has seizures, I’m going to sit here and raise my hand to support that,” said Councilmember Teresa McCoy, of Big Cove, moving to pass the legislation as soon as the floor opened for discussion.
McCoy has been in support of loosened cannabis rules on Cherokee land since the issue first made its way to council chambers in November, brought forward by a group of three Cherokee men who had formed a group called Common Sense Cannabis to support marijuana legalization.
They’d originally approached council requesting a study looking at the feasibility of allowing cannabis for medicinal, industrial and recreational use — a request which council originally passed but then rescinded in December after Principal Chief Patrick Lambert issued a veto. Lambert took issue with the recreational component of the proposal. Drug use in Cherokee was already at “epidemic proportions,” Lambert had argued in his veto letter, and legalizing recreational marijuana would “create a haven for outsiders to come onto our boundary and use an otherwise illegal substance.” Council upheld the veto in a vote that was nearly an exact mirror of its initial one on the issue, but everybody understood that the question of medical marijuana legalization would likely resurface.