Schedule 1 to Schedule 3, and Back to Schedule 1? – The ‘Stop Pot Act’ Looks to Effectively End Cannabis Legalization in America

September 7, 2023 · Cannabis.net

As the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians in North Carolina prepares for a vote on the legalization of adult-use cannabis, U.S. Representative Chuck Edwards (R) has issued a threat to defund the tribe, regardless of the vote’s outcome. Principal Chief Richard Sneed of the tribe has characterized this move by the Republican congressman as a significant political misstep.

On the late evening of September 1st, Edwards introduced what he has named the “Stop Pot Act.” This proposed bill would withhold 10% of federal transportation funds from places that violate federal law, as defined by the Controlled Substances Act. This Act now classifies recreational marijuana as a Schedule I narcotic. However, it’s worth mentioning that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has requested that the Narcotic Enforcement Administration (DEA) begin the process of reevaluating cannabis’s classification.

Back in August 2021, the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI) Council voted to permit the cultivation, sale, and use of medical marijuana on their North Carolina lands.

In mid-August, Edwards cautioned the EBCI, whom he considers his allies, through a letter published in the Cherokee One Feather. In this letter, he warned that his proposed legislation could result in defunding governments that disregard federal laws concerning cannabis sales and usage.

Concerns Over Legalized Cannabis Impact on Public Safety and Law Enforcement

Edwards wrote that “people from all over the state and the surrounding areas will be driving to Cherokee and likely the EBCI’s other non-contiguous tribal lands to buy it, light up and party….It also means many would leave the reservation and hit the road high.”

Then, in a press statement on Friday, Edwards laid out the details of his Stop Pot Act.

“The laws of any government should not infringe on the overall laws of our nation, and federal funds should not be awarded to jurisdictions that willfully ignore federal law,” said Edwards. “During a time when our communities are seeing unprecedented crime, drug addiction, and mental illness, the Stop Pot Act will help prevent even greater access to drugs and ease the strain placed on our local law enforcement and mental health professionals who are already stretched thin.”

The ECBI, a sovereign self-governed nation and federally recognized tribe intends to vote on Sept. 7 on whether to legalize adult-use marijuana on tribal lands in North Carolina. If the measure passes, the tribe’s 57,000-acre Qualla Boundary in the western part of the state would become the only place in North Carolina where people can legally buy and consume cannabis, reported local ABC affiliate WLOS.

The Stop Pot Act’s Impact on Tribal Sovereignty

A lot of concerns have been raised about the Stop Pot Act’s potential effects on tribal sovereignty since it was introduced by U.S. Representative Chuck Edwards (R). In particular, there are concerns about EBCI’s autonomy in deciding whether to legalize cannabis on their own lands.

Tribal sovereignty, a bedrock principle, recognizes Native American tribes as self-governing entities within their territories, empowered to establish and enforce their laws. This principle is deeply rooted in treaties, federal laws, and court rulings, underscoring the distinct status of tribal nations. However, the Stop Pot Act’s aim to penalize areas that defy federal cannabis laws challenges this sovereignty, igniting concerns that it might infringe upon the EBCI’s right to shape their cannabis policies independently, potentially eroding their self-governance and autonomy.

Tribal governments must manage conflicting laws and make decisions that have broad repercussions for their people as a result of the struggle between federal, state, and tribal restrictions. As the EBCI and other Native American tribes struggle with the changing cannabis legalization landscape in the US, the impact of the Stop Pot Act on tribal sovereignty is of utmost concern. This debate underscores the broader issues surrounding tribal self-determination, federalism, and the intricate interplay of laws governing cannabis, raising vital questions about the balance between federal authority and tribal rights amid evolving drug policies.

The Crucial Tribal Vote on Cannabis Legalization

The impending decision by the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI) to legalize adult-use marijuana on tribal lands carries profound significance. Scheduled for September 7th, this historic vote will shape the future of cannabis policy within the tribe’s 57,000-acre Qualla Boundary in the western part of North Carolina.

If the measure passes, the Qualla Boundary could become the sole location in North Carolina where individuals can legally purchase and consume cannabis. This unique development brings both potential benefits and challenges, sparking extensive discussions within the tribe and beyond about the economic, social, and cultural impacts of cannabis legalization.

The argument put forth by supporters is that making marijuana legal within tribal territory will provide the EBCI with a new source of cash and produce money, chances for employment, and economic growth. For individuals who choose to consume cannabis recreationally, it might also offer a more secure and regulated atmosphere.

However, opponents express concerns about potential risks associated with increased cannabis access, including potential health and safety implications, especially if visitors from other parts of the state and nearby regions travel to the Qualla Boundary to purchase and consume cannabis. These concerns raise questions about the capacity of tribal law enforcement and health services to manage these challenges effectively.

Thus, the approaching vote signifies a turning point in the continuing national conversation regarding the legalization of cannabis, tribal sovereignty, and the intricate interaction between state and federal laws. As EBCI members are ready to vote, the results will influence cannabis policy in their area and serve as a closely followed case study for similar discussions around the country.

Bottom Line

The “Stop Pot Act” introduced by U.S. Representative Chuck Edwards targeting tribal lands and states legalizing cannabis reflects a complex clash between federal and tribal sovereignty. As the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI) faces a critical vote on cannabis legalization, the outcomes will significantly influence not only their community but also the broader discussions surrounding cannabis policy, tribal autonomy, and the intricate interplay of federal and state laws in the evolving landscape of marijuana legalization in the United States. (Full Story)

In categories:Legalization Politics
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