Baker Scholar Projects

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State level drug policy reform has presented new challenges for federal enforcement of controlled substances, especially cannabis. In line with the autonomous nature of Native American tribes, the possibility of new medicinal access to cannabis and potential revenue sources from the retail cannabis industry draws interest from tribes seeking to follow the 24 states currently operating under adapted cannabis policies. The Eastern Band of the Cherokee have the potential to become a leader in the region for marijuana reform and development. The thesis of my study is this: Through the strengthening of grassroots support, coalition building, and strategic political advocacy, tribes seeking to implement medical and/or retail cannabis programs can overcome federal interdiction and regional opposition to successfully implement new marijuana policy—policy that has the potential to improve public health, increase economic development, and reform a broken criminal justice system.

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