Interest of Justice

Interest of Justice

On March 16, 2015, I read an article in the Charlotte Observer about the arrest of a 94 year old Charlotte man for felony possession of marijuana. The who, what and when were laid out in terse and dispassionate language – 48 words total in 5 lines. Yet these 48 words gripped my interest and held it for 3 months as I attempted to learn everything I could about the circumstances and shared any information I found on the people’s media of social net-working. I turned to the article on-line where the story was fleshed out in the comments.

One activist posted a link to the arrest documents available on-line through the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s website. A neighbor noted that he was a WWII and Korean War vet who had served in the Merchant Marines and Naval Reserve. His daughter posted that he was using marijuana for medical reasons. Comment after comment, people expressed anger that a man who had served his country was now so poorly served by his country’s laws.

On June 17, 2015, I contacted the Mecklenburg Clerk of Court who told me that a date had been set for a first appearance (July 1, 2015). I pointed out to the Clerk that the gentleman in question was 94 and a WWII/Korean war vet. I was not able to learn who the presiding judge would be, or which DA would be prosecuting the case. I shared this information on Facebook, and many expressed an interest in going to bear witness to the court proceedings and provide moral support for the defendant.

On June 26, 2015 I searched the District Attorney’s website to see whether further information was available, to find that the case was no longer linked. I contacted the Clerk of Court on June 29th and was informed that the case had been dismissed. While this was very welcome news, it was still frustrating that so little information was available. I shared this information also and another activist friend also contacted the Clerk of Court who HIM e-mailed a form filed by Bart Menser and approved by David Kernodle with the terse note that the case was dismissed “Interest of justice” on June 19, 2015.

In Mecklenburg County in 2014, 4,507 people were arrested for Misdemeanor Possession of Marijuana up to ½ ounce; 226 for Misdemeanor Possession of Marijuana ½ – 1 ½ ounces; and 233 were arrested for Felony Possession of Marijuana over 1 ½ ounces for a total of 4,966 people arrested (that is about 13 people per day).

In 2013, the ACLU estimated $750.00 as the cost per arrest (as a low average, factoring in 1 – police expenditures; 2 – judicial and legal services expenditures; 3 – corrections expenditures). We can therefore estimate that the cost of arresting those 4,966 people was $3,724,500.

The interest of justice is not being served in our current war on drugs, however many will argue that as long as marijuana is illegal on a federal level there is little that states or communities can do about it.

Possession of personal amounts of cannabis should be decriminalized in Charlotte. Eureka Springs, AR, Fayetteville, AR, Berkeley, CA, Oakland, CA, Santa Barbara, CA, Santa Cruz, CA, San Francisco, CA, Santa Monica, CA, West Hollywood, CA, Denver, CO, Miami-Dade FL, Hawai’i County, HI, Columbia, MO, Missoula County, MO, Santa Fe, NM, Philadelphia, PA, Seattle, WA and Tacoma, WA have decriminalized possession of small amounts of marijuana. People in these jurisdictions who are found in possession of marijuana (usually up to ½ ounce) are given a ticket instead of being arrested. These ordinances put the police and sheriffs on notice that citizens prefer to have their tax dollars spent on arresting and convicting crimes against people and property rather than on arresting people for possession of marijuana.

Updated CBD Bill Gives North Carolinians Limited Access to Medical Marijuana

The “North Carolina Epilepsy Alternative Treatment Act” went into effect on August 1st 2015. Governor McCrory signed HB 766 into law two weeks earlier giving neurologists the authority to recommend low-THC cannabis oil to qualifying patients.

The law provides a legal exemption for caregivers of patients with intractable epilepsy to possess hemp extract under the following conditions:

  • The “hemp extract” means an extract from a cannabis plant, or a mixture or preparation containing cannabis plant material, that has all of the following characteristics:
  • Is composed of less than nine-tenths of one percent (0.9%) tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) by weight.
  • Is composed of at least five percent (5%) cannabidiol (CBD) by weight.
  • Contains no other psychoactive substance.
  • Possesses or uses the hemp extract only to treat intractable epilepsy.
  • Possesses, in close proximity to the hemp extract, a certificate of analysis that indicates the hemp extract’s ingredients, including its percentages of tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabidiol by weight.
  • Is a caregiver. A caregiver is defined as an individual that is at least 18 years of age and a resident of North Carolina who is a parent, legal guardian, or custodian of a patient, who possesses a written statement dated and signed by a neurologist that states all of the following:
    1) The patient has been examined and is under the care of the neurologist;
    2) The patient suffers from intractable epilepsy;
    3) The patient may benefit from treatment with hemp extract.
  • The caregiver must be registered in a database to be established by the NC Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).

The Intractable Epilepsy Alternative Treatment Database
The updated law requires that DHHS create a secure and electronic Intractable Epilepsy Alternative Treatment database registry for the registration of neurologists, caregivers, and patients. All caregivers shall be required to register with the Department. Law enforcement agencies are authorized to contact the Department to confirm a caregiver’s registration. The database shall consist of the following information to be provided by the caregivers at the time of registration:

  • The name and address of the caregiver.
  • The name and address of the caregiver’s patient.
  • The name, address, and hospital affiliation of the neurologist recommending hemp extract as an alternative treatment for intractable epilepsy for the patient.
  • If at any time following registration, the name, address, or hospital affiliation of the patient’s neurologist changes, the caregiver shall notify the Department and provide the Department with the patient’s new neurologist’s name, address, and hospital affiliation.

To enroll in the database…
Contact the Department of Health and Human Services Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities, and Substance Abuse Services Division, Drug Control Unit.

Fquira Johannes:

919-733-2130

fquira.johannes@dhhs.nc.gov

Registration Form: NCEATA Registration Form

In an e-mail dated 7/31/2015, Rep. McElraft stated:
There is no age limit. The patient must have a note from a NC neurologist and intractable epilepsy in order to use this product legally in NC.  GW Pharma should have the Epidiolex approved within a year or two and then it should be covered by insurance.
Thanks Pat

Representative McElraft’s office notes that if the above conditions are met, caregivers should be careful about the source of the hemp extract, as some products may be superior to others. They suggested CW Botanicals (the original creators of Charlotte’s Web CBD oil) which can be obtained through The Realm of Caring: www.theroc.us

Other sources of CBD oil include, but are not limited to,…

Palmetto Harmony
http://palmettoharmony.com/
This local company started in South Carolina by Janel Ralph.  She developed her company’s CBD products for her child with intractable epilepsy. Ms. Ralph stated that her company is able to ship their products, although they are not set up to do so on-line yet. She was recently named one of the 100 Most Influential Women in the cannabis industry by Skunk Magazine. She can be reached at 843-222-9222.

Mary’s Nutritionals
http://www.marysnutritionals.com/default.aspMary’s Nutritionals is operated as a legally separate, but identical sister company to Mary’s Medicinals. This Colorado based cannabis business has been given consistently high quality reviews. They test and report on the quality of their CBD products, all of which are shipped nationwide.
Graham Sorkin – Corporate Communications Specialist
818-268-4282
Graham@marysmedicinals.com

Excellent sources of information on cannabidiol are
CBD Oil Reviews – http://cbdoilreview.org/
Project CBD – http://www.projectcbd.org/

The North Carolina Medical Board lists 1,022 neurologists (some no longer actively practicing): http://wwwapps.ncmedboard.org/Clients/NCBOM/Public/LicenseeInformationResults.aspx

NC Senator Report Card – 2015 Medical Marijuana

The table below lists all the Senators in the General Assembly in 2015, and how they stand on allowing patients to have access to cannabis based on a doctor’s recommendation.

(Click here to see a report card for the Representatives in the General Assembly.)

Some of these Senators have shared their stance (in varying ways) on allowing doctors to recommend cannabis to patients in need. We have compiled the responses from these Senators and given them a grade.

If your Senator doesn’t have a grade, it means we don’t know how he or she stands on the issue. Please help the cause by calling, writing, emailing, or scheduling a face-to-face meeting today. Let us know what you found by emailing info@ncnorml.org.

Don’t know who your Senator is? Read this….
http://ncnorml.com/2015/01/29/who-represents-me-in-north-carolinas-state-congress/

NOTE: Scroll left and right in the embedded table to see the grade, political party, legislator’s name, district, counties, comments supporting the legislator’s grade, and supporting links.

National Congress Cannabis Report Card

The table below lists the Representatives and Senators from North Carolina that have been elected to national Congress. These are the people who have been tasked with rescheduling marijuana, reducing penalties associated with the plant, and making cannabis-friendly laws nationwide.

For report cards for the senators and representatives in North Carolina’s General Assembly…
Click here for Senators
Click here for Representatives

Some of these national congress members have shared their stance on allowing doctors to recommend cannabis to patients in need. We have compiled the responses from these representatives and senators and given them a grade.

If a congress member doesn’t have a grade listed, it means we don’t know how he or she stands on the issue. Please help the cause by calling, writing, or emailing to ask.

Let us know what you found by emailing info@ncnorml.org.

NOTE: Scroll left and right in the embedded table to see the grade, political party, legislator’s name, district, counties, comments supporting the legislator’s grade, and supporting links.

NC Representative Report Card – 2015 Medical Marijuana

The table below lists all the representatives in the General Assembly in 2015 and how they stand on allowing patients to have access to cannabis based on a doctor’s recommendation.

(Click here to see a report card for the Senators in the General Assembly.)

Some of these Representatives have shared their stance on allowing doctors to recommend cannabis to patients in need. We have compiled the responses from these representatives and given them a grade.

If your representative doesn’t have a grade, it means we don’t know how he or she stands on the issue. Please help the cause by calling, writing, emailing, or scheduling a face-to-face meeting today. Let us know what you found by emailing info@ncnorml.org.

Don’t know who your representative is? Read this….
http://ncnorml.com/2015/01/29/who-represents-me-in-north-carolinas-state-congress/

NOTE: Scroll left and right in the embedded table to see the grade, political party, legislator’s name, district, counties, comments supporting the legislator’s grade, and supporting links.

Legislative Rally for Medical Marijuana in Raleigh – March 19, 2015

image - nc flag white marijuana leafOn Thursday March 19 NC NORML, NCCPN and activists from all parts of North Carolina and the South will be attending the annual Rally in Raleigh. By attending this event you are showing state congress that you are ready for them to pass a long overdue medical cannabis bill. A recent Public Policy Polling survey shows 70% of North Carolinians support a doctor’s right to prescribe medical cannabis.

Add this event to your Facebook Calendar.

There will be a formal presentation held in the main Legislative Auditorium with several speakers. (Details below) You are encouraged to contact your representative beforehand and let him or her know that this presentation about the value of medical marijuana is being held that day. Also NC NORML and NCCPN will be hosting a rally at Halifax Mall (the grassy courtyard between Legislation Office Buildings) from 10am to 3pm for supporters of cannabis legislation reform.

Contact your representative today. Schedule an appointment to speak with them. Most of the General Assembly is made up of conservatives that are traditionally closed minded about legalizing marijuana in any capacity. The thinking goes something like “Drugs are bad. Marijuana is a drug. End of story.” They are unfortunately loyal to outdated opinions that have no basis in science. Let them know medical doctors will be presenting at 11am. Politely and humbly ask them to join you in the auditorium for the evidence showing why patients should be allowed safe access to legal medical cannabis.

The program will include some of the following speakers:

– Representative Kelly Alexander: He has sponsored each of North Carolina’s medical marijuana bills, and this one too. He’ll say a few words about the legislation and what we can do to pass it.
– Dr. Kevin Baiko who is Board Certified in Cannabinoid Medicine and has current practices in Hawaii and Oregon. Dr. Baiko will take questions from legislators.
– Dr. (NP) Lee Porter who will present on the endocannabinoid system.
Also on hand will be Faculty Members of Patients Out of Time to answer questions. POT has presented all of the seminars for Doctors and other Health Care Professionals over the past decades. These seminars provide AMA certified recurrent training required for different professions.

If you do not agree with the current marijuana laws in North Carolina, it is important for you to attend. This is a numbers game. To demonstrate to the General Assembly that this issue matters, more people need to come out this year than ever before. Last year we had over 200. This year we hope to have hundreds more.

When will this presentation be held?
March 19, 2015 (Thursday)
Presentation begins at 10am .
Arrive early in the morning to meet with your Representative beforehand.
(Call for an appointment TODAY).
After you meet with your representative, gather with your peers in the Legislative Auditorium before the presentation begins.

Don’t know your Representative?
http://ncnorml.com/2015/01/29/who-represents-me-in-north-carolinas-state-congress/

Where will we meet?
North Carolina General Assembly
Legislative Building
16 West Jones St
Raleigh, North Carolina

What should I wear?
Dress like you’re going to church or an interview. It doesn’t have to be fancy, but should show you respect the institution of law and your willingness to do what’s needed to give patients safe access to marijuana.

Who should attend?
If you think and feel that a doctor has the right to prescribe medical marijuana, you need to come out and show your support. This event’s success depends on you. The passage of this bill will only happen if you and your friends and family come out to show support and contact your representative.

Help us get the word out. Take a day off from work and join hundreds of like-minded individuals who know it is time North Carolina showed compassion towards its citizens who are in need of their non-toxic, natural medicine.

Contacting Your Legislator About Legalizing Cannabis in North Carolina

North Carolina does not have a ballot initiative process to pass laws. Instead of being able to gather enough signatures from registered voters in the state to put a referendum on the November ballot, we must persuade our legislators to pass the bills we want.

Reaching out to your representative is not difficult or time consuming, but it is extremely important to do so. It is the ONLY way the cannabis laws will change in North Carolina.

Below are guidelines to follow to make your contact with the state legislature effective and to persuade them into a new way of thinking. Unfortunately most of North Carolina’s General Assembly are against cannabis legislation because “marijuana is a drug, and drugs are bad.” They do not understand that cannabis is not a gateway drug. They do not know that it is impossible to die from overdose and chronic use of cannabis. They do not realize it is less addictive than alcohol, tobacco, or caffeine. They do not know that the National Cancer Institute (Cancer.gov) recognizes cannabinoids have cancer cell killing properties. The list of benefits is long, and the list of risks is short. Cannabis support continues to grow with registered voters, but North Carolina political officers remain loyal to an old anti-marijuana propaganda. Still, we need to have compassion for our legislators’ ignorance. Anger at them hurts our cause. We must be respectful and find a way to have a reasonable conversation with them.

IMAGE-NCpolling2015-MJ vs Politicians

Step 1 – Who are my state representatives and senators ?
The first step is to know who represents you in state congress and find the ways to reach out to them (phone, email, mailing address, etc). If you don’t know who represents you, read the article “Who Represents Me in North Carolina’s State Congress“.

Step 2 – Decide if you want to call their office or send a letter
Either one will work well. Email works too, but because sending email is so easy it doesn’t have the same effect as a conversation or printed letter. Decide if you are more comfortable talking on the phone or sending a letter in the mail. If you decide to call, be prepared to maintain a calm, respectful demeanor while asking specific questions. Be prepared to listen politely, even if you don’t like the answer you’re hearing.

Step 3 (Phone Option) – Call Your Representative
Have a pen and paper handy, pick up the phone and dial the office number.
Politely ask to speak with your Representative or Senator. If asked, explain that you would like to know more about his/her stance on cannabis and industrial hemp legislation. You may be asked to call back at a certain time. If so, that’s a good sign. You’re closer to getting your conversation…

When you are patched through to the representative, thank them for their time and say you’d like to ask 3 questions. Simply ask how (s)he feels about cannabis topics that interest you. Some examples include…
1) Allowing doctors to prescribe marijuana to qualifying patients
2) Decriminalizing marijuana so possession of small, personal amounts is an infraction (like a parking ticket) instead of a misdemeanor on your record
3) Legalizing industrial hemp (marijuana’s cousin plant that is used to make textiles, but can’t get you high) like Tennessee, Kentucky and West Virginia recently have done.

If you get a positive response from these questions, you can ask about full legalization like what’s been done in Colorado and Washington. Based on the representative’s answers to the first two questions, you’ll know if this one is worth asking.

Step 3 (letter writing option)Write Your Representative
Writing a letter is also very effective. It should be in your own words so it doesn’t look like we’re overwhelming them with a form letter. Don’t worry too much about punctuation and grammar. Just ask these some basic questions in the letter, include facts about the plant’s safety and efficacy. Conclude that you would really appreciate their time and a response on this issue.

The letter supporting medical cannabis might read something like this…

Dear Rep. xxxxxxx

Thank you for your time reading this letter and your service to our community. I would like to know how you stand on marijuana and industrial hemp. Specifically, do you believe doctors should be allowed to prescribe marijuana to qualifying patients?

Did you know that already 23 states already offer similar patients protections? Additionally Washington DC recently made it completely legal to grow and possess marijuana.  Moreover, in December Congress and the President signed off on language barring the Justice Department from interfering in the implementation of statewide medical marijuana programs.

Clinical trials acknowledge that marijuana possesses therapeutic efficacy. A recent review of several of these clinical trials assessing cannabis, published in The Open Neurology Journal concludes, “Based on evidence currently available the Schedule I classification (for cannabis) is not tenable; it is not accurate that cannabis has no medical value, or that information on safety is lacking.”

According to 2015 statewide polling, nearly 7 out of 10 residents favor allowing physicians to authorize cannabis therapy. In addition, existing law proposing for the allowance of cannabidiol (but providing no in-state supply source) for only an extremely limited number of patients has proven to be unworkable. Patients deserve the option to legally access a botanical product that is objectively safer than the litany of pharmaceutical drugs it could replace.

Please support HB 78 – North Carolina’s Medical Cannabis Act.

Your letter might conclude with some facts about how marijuana is non-toxic and no one has ever died from chronic use or acute overdose (compared to alcohol which kills 40,000 people every year according to the Center for Disease Control). Another nice factoid is that marijuana is less addictive than tobacco, alcohol and caffeine. You might also point out that the National Cancer Institute (cancer.gov) recognizes that marijuana has cancer cell killing properties.

Put the article in your own words. Stick to the facts and be respectful. The rest will come in time.

Step 4 – Tell NC NORML when you receive a response
Let us know how the representative responded. If you received a letter, it would be excellent if you could scan it and email it to us. This type of official record is great to keep on file. If you made a phone call or wrote a letter, email NC NORML a summary of the answers to the questions you asked.

Our email address is info@ncnorml.org

If you do not agree with the prohibition of cannabis and current laws, we ask that you do your part to change them.

The difference between what we do and what we are capable of doing would suffice to solve most of the world’s problems. ~Mahatma Gandhi