Further complicating matters is the ambiguous stance the US government has taken towards marijuana use, possession and distribution.

Cannabis is illegal on the federal level, but approximately 41 states and the District of Columbia allow for either medicinal or recreational use.

Then there are questions of enforcement. With each new president comes a different approach to upholding federal law.

The administration of President Barack Obama, for instance, adopted a policy encouraging prosecutors to leave states and tribes that legalised marijuana alone. But under Obama’s successor, Donald Trump, then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded that policy, though no action was ultimately taken against the tribes.

Other measures have also cast a chill over Indigenous efforts to regulate marijuana on tribal land.

In 2017, the Bureau of Indian Affairs sent federal officers to raid a facility growing medical marijuana at Picuris Pueblo, an Indigenous community in northern New Mexico.

That happened despite the fact that the state had legalised medicinal marijuana in 2007, and the tribe decriminalised its use for members in 2015.

A second swoop at Picuris Pueblo came in 2021, with agents confiscating marijuana plants from a home garden. Earlier that same year, New Mexico had enacted a law allowing residents to grow up to 12 plants for personal use.

Fearing crackdowns, the nearly 100 tribes that operate regulated cannabis operations in some fashion — whether testing, selling, growing or processing — have largely opened in states that allow marijuana use.

Some tribes have also signed compacts with the states to set terms about how the cannabis will be produced and distributed. Those compacts include agreements about how to tax marijuana products and tracking systems to monitor the supply chain.

But the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians has moved forward on its own, brushing aside the pushback from its own state.

Mere days after the Great Smoky Cannabis Company launched, the administration of President Joe Biden moved to re-classify marijuana as a less dangerous drug, opening the door for it to be used for research and medicine.

The drug, however, remains illegal on the federal level. And the new classification could be reversed by a subsequent administration.