Cherokee Nation launches workgroup to study hemp, cannabis growth

BY STAFF REPORTS
01/22/2020 03:15 PM
TAHLEQUAH – Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. has appointed a Cherokee Nation workgroup to study issues related to hemp and cannabis in fields such as commerce, health care and agriculture.

“As chief, I want well-informed policy, and the team we have assembled will be a great asset in that regard,” Hoskin said. “I believe there are opportunities for Cherokee Nation, our businesses and our citizens to benefit from this emerging industry. But, we need to move forward carefully and responsibly and in absolute strict adherence to the law in order to ensure success and sustainability.”

The “Executive Work Group on Hemp, Cannabis and Related Opportunities” will have several primary functions, such as making recommendations on internal CN policies, including Human Resources policies. The workgroup will also make recommendations on modernizing CN statutes impacting the growth and use of hemp and cannabis. 

It will also consider what, if any, role cannabis can play in the tribe’s Health Services system, including identifying any legal or ethical barriers on the use of the substance. 

Workgroup members will also study and make recommendations on opportunities for CN and its citizens to engage in raising, processing and engaging in commercial sales of hemp and cannabis. Members are:

· Chad Harsha, secretary of Natural Resources (chairman),
· Tina Glory-Jordan, secretary of state,
· Todd Enlow, chief of staff,
· Paden Qualls, assistant attorney general,
· Andy McMillan, Cherokee Nation Businesses,
· Kim Teehee, executive director of Government Relations, and
· Dr. Roger Montgomery, Health Services.

“The workgroup established by Chief Hoskin is a substantial step for the Cherokee Nation evaluate the changing regulatory environment surrounding hemp and cannabis in areas of commerce, agriculture and health care,” Harsha said. “I look forward to working with this team to bring clarity on these issues and to present policy recommendations that will advance the Cherokee Nation in these emerging areas.”

The workgroup will report its recommendations to Hoskin and the Tribal Council no later than May 31. 

While marijuana use is still illegal under federal law, there are provisions allowing commercial hemp production. Oklahoma legalized medical cannabis under State Question 788 in 2018. 

Under CN law, it still remains illegal to use or possess marijuana in all tribally owned properties. However, the CN recently revised its workplace drug use policy to protect employees and applicants who possess a valid medical marijuana patient license.

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