Two Native American Casinos To Open Mega-Dispensaries

Two Native American Casinos To Open Mega-Dispensaries

Foxwoods Resort Casino in Connecticut, owned and operated by Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, and North Carolina’s Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort, owned by Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians are both looking to open “mega-dispensaries” of at least 25,000 square feet, with drive-through windows, and consumption lounges. Now that casinos can add legalized sports betting, cannabis sales could provide yet another lucrative revenue stream.

Connecticut legalized marijuana on July 1 and state-licensed retail stores should open next summer to adults 21 and over. In North Carolina marijuana is only partially decriminalized. Possession of a half ounce or less is a non-jailable misdemeanor. A medical marijuana bill is still working its way through the North Carolina legislature.

Native American tribal lands are sovereign and aren’t bound by state and federal marijuana laws and any taxes on cannabis go to the respective tribe. Earlier this year, the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians Tribal Council approved medical marijuana on Cherokee land.

The store would be on tribal property and the tribes and don’t have to abide by state marijuana laws. On top of that, the tribes would keep any tax revenue they generate rather than paying it to the state.

“This is going to be the only legal cannabis dispensary within hundreds of miles around. So we’re preparing to accommodate large volumes of people. We can’t do that with a mom-and-pop location,” said Cherokee tribe’s governmental affairs liaison, Jeremy Wilson.

A final site hasn’t been determined in North Carolina, but a probable location is a nearby stand-alone bingo hall closed in 2020 due to COVID-19. The Connecticut dispensary is speculated to be located near a golf course, restaurants, and a shopping mall, approximately a half-mile from the casino.

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