Letters to the Editor

Rep. Edwards has overstepped authority

To the Editor:


We are writing today in response to Rep. Chuck Edwards’ letter in the Carolina Journal  insisting members of Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians vote against the legalization of marijuana use. For a moment we are setting aside our disagreements with Rep. Edwards about the role of marijuana policy in reducing crime and addiction. Make no mistake, we do disagree with his policy approach, but this letter is about a different issue. This letter is about our rejection of his attempt to coerce the people of the EBCI into making the decision he wants them to make. The EBCI is a sovereign nation and has the right to govern itself and pass such laws as its duly elected government and its enrolled members see fit, without federal or state interference.

In his letter Rep. Edwards threatens to eliminate federal funds to tribal governments that choose to legalize any form of marijuana use. Rep. Edwards’ strategy reeks of the same paternalism we have seen throughout the history of federal dealings with tribal governments. This is not the action of a friend with a disagreement, it is patronizing and coercive. Rep. Edwards offers false friendship. The federal funding owed to the EBCI must never be a tool for extorting one man’s policy goals. A real friend would know that the United States of America owes a debt to the Cherokee, and making good on that debt is not dependent on disagreements over marijuana policy.

 Garrett Lagan,

Swain County Democratic Party Chair

Related Items

Diane Snyder,

Cherokee County Democratic Party Chair

Cody Lewis,

Jackson County Democratic Party Chair

Sam Edney,

Transylvania County Democratic Party Chair 

 Siyo Democratic Party Leaders,

Thank you for your words of support and understanding of the Tribe’s sovereignty and the Trust Responsibility of the United States government to federally recognized Indian tribes. In my estimation, Rep. Edwards has overstepped his authority and has made a major political blunder as a federal representative; a non-Indian, elected official telling a sovereign tribal nation how they ought to do handle their business.

Thank you for your leadership in responding to this matter. 

Chief Richard Sneed

Smokey Mountain News Logo
Go to top
Payment Information


At our inception 20 years ago, we chose to be different. Unlike other news organizations, we made the decision to provide in-depth, regional reporting free to anyone who wanted access to it. We don’t plan to change that model. Support from our readers will help us maintain and strengthen the editorial independence that is crucial to our mission to help make Western North Carolina a better place to call home. If you are able, please support The Smoky Mountain News.

The Smoky Mountain News is a wholly private corporation. Reader contributions support the journalistic mission of SMN to remain independent. Your support of SMN does not constitute a charitable donation. If you have a question about contributing to SMN, please contact us.