North Carolina's first Medical Cannabis dispensary opens for business

North Carolina's first Medical Cannabis dispensary opens for business

Saturday, April 20, marks a historic day for North Carolina as the first medical cannabis dispensary held its grand opening in Cherokee.

A ribbon cutting was held at 9:30 a.m. outside The Great Smoky Cannabis Dispensary, located at 91 Bingo Loop Road in the Qualla Boundary.

People all across the mountains were lined up outside, eagerly waiting to purchase the Eastern Band of Indians' packaged cannabis.

Forrest Parker, the general manager for the Great Smoky Cannabis Company, said that they are always striving to improve the quality of their products.

"The first legal, regulated, safe cannabis to be sold within the boundaries of North Carolina," Parker said. "We're very proud to set the bar in quality and in health and safety."

All the products are produced locally from plants grown and processed at the Cooper's Creek Farm. Parker said he is thrilled about the direction of this company.

"We're just proud to be the first to enter into this industry, but in this opportunity, it's pretty much a people's opportunity. We're cultivators of people, not just plants, and that's really important to us," he said. "Everything we're doing is for our people. To be able to do that for our people and with our people right here, right here, is the most special opportunity that anyone, me as a tribal member, could have."

Parker said that they will continue to persist in investing in the safety and well-being of the community.

"We continuously look forward to working with our very long-time and wonderful partner at the state level to make sure that as this moment continues to grow, that we are providing a standard that can be unmatched throughout America so that customers throughout the state of North Carolina, if and when that happens, can understand and have access to safe, regulated cannabis and that we don't have to consume all those risks that comes with unregulated," he explained.

Casey Stuart said he's waited a long time for this day. He joined others who stood in line to see inside the Great Smoky Cannabis Dispensary on Saturday.

For years, Stuart has been advocating for the legalization of marijuana in North Carolina, seeking ways to bring about change and promote acceptance of the plant's benefits within the state's regulations and laws.

"It is really a personal story for me just because I lost family members to things, like, that was produced in the area that were synthetic," Stuart said.

His goal is to bring awareness about the risks associated with synthetic drugs. After the loss of his sister, he started a petition.

"It was 'Move On,' which is an organization online, and I had it just titled, 'Marijuana and Cherokee,'" Stuart said. "I wrote the testimony, of course, about losing a family member to a synthetic drug, and I wanted to make sure that the availability here in Western North Carolina could be as close as possible."

For Stuart, this dispensary represents a step in the right direction.

"Any kind of activism that involves this, I'm voting based on this, and so whatever candidate that I want, whether local or national government, will be based on these policies because of how many lives it saves," he said. "Hundreds of lives are going to be saved because of this building."

To have access to the dispensary, you have a medical patient's card.

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Region: North Carolina

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