Industrial Hemp now Legal in North Carolina

image_hemp-uses

North Carolina passed a law allowing for the regulated cultivation of industrial hemp October 31, 2015. Once a commission created by SB313 establishes the guidelines for the hemp program, landowners will be allowed to produce and harvest cannabis sativa with less than 0.3% THC. (THC is the psychoactive chemical in marijuana that creates mild euphoria.) The NC Department of Agriculture will be responsible for issuing licenses and distributing seeds to registered farmers. The law does not dictate a deadline for the commission to implement the industrial hemp program.

In the House, Republicans Dean Arp, Rick Catlin, Jimmy Dixon, Josh Dobson, Pat Hurley, Michele Presnell, and Rena Turner voted against the bill; no Democratic representatives voted No. In the Senate, only Republican Andrew Brock and Democrat Don Davis voted against the bill. The bill became law on October 31, 2015 without the signature of Pat McCrory. Per Governor McCrory:

“After discussion with Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler, I have decided to allow Senate Bill 313 to become law without my signature. Despite the bill’s good intentions, there are legitimate concerns I would like to address… The legislation tasks a new commission to establish from the ground up a regulatory structure to reintroduce a crop to North Carolina. Although there is a clear intent to ensure this program supports agriculture and research goals, a strong regulatory framework to safeguard against abuse is critical to its success and the safety of North Carolinians.”

Industrial hemp will give North Carolina farmers another valuable cash crop to add to their repertoire, and could replace crops that have lost value in recent years, like tobacco. For those concerned, hemp is very different than marijuana, containing less than 0.3% THC, so it would be impossible to get “high” from industrial hemp. Various parts of the plant can be used in the manufacture of more than 25,000 products. The leaves and flowers can be used to make CBD medicines for patients with intractable epilepsy, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, cancer, Crohn’s disease, mitochondrial disease, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, and sickle cell disease (in NC, CBD extracts are permitted only for patients with intractable epilepsy). The oil and seeds have high amounts of omega fatty acids, which help improve cholesterol levels and lower the risks of heart disease.

Hemp is a source of very strong natural fiber and highly nutritional seeds. The fiber is used in applications from paper to building products (such as Hempcrete) and the seeds are used for oil production and consumption. The core of the plant is highly absorbent, and can be used to absorb oil spills and to maintain the seals on water, gas and oil drills.

The Bill would set up a Hemp Commission consisting of 5 members. These members include the Commissioner of Agriculture or a designee, an appointed municipal chief of police, an elected sheriff, a faculty member of a state university who teaches Ag science, and a full time farmer with 10 years of experience. The commission will be in charge of setting up tracking and testing procedures and studying marketplace opportunities. Farmers will pay an annual fee of $250 + $2 per acre, with possible incentive provisions for small acreage to promote small farmers. NC State and NC A & T will have research programs since they currently have highly developed agriculture programs.

Hemp, Inc. is currently building a commercial size decortication facility in Spring Hope, NC in Nash County. This is the first of its size in the US and one of 5 in the world. This sets NC up for being a major player in the hemp industry.

NC Senator Report Card – 2015 Medical Marijuana

NC Senator Report Card Updated with votes on Industrial Hemp and amending CBD Oil Bill

NORML of North Carolina - Official Blog

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…

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NC Representative Report Card – 2015 Medical Marijuana

North Carolina will will hold primaries on March 15, 2016. Candidate Filing Dates are December 1 – December 21, 2015. NC NORML will update this scorecard with information regarding incumbents and challengers. You can help by contacting your representative and their challenger(s) to find out whether s/he will support medical and decriminalization bills if elected, and let us know where they stand. If your representative has been a supporter of medical marijuana, decriminalization, and hemp in the past, be sure to thank her/him, and encourage your friends/family to support them also.

NORML of North Carolina - Official Blog

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…

View original post 6 more words

NC is a Decrim State – But What Does that REALLY Mean?

In some states and municipalities that have ‘decriminalized’ possession of small amounts of cannabis, the offense is treated as an infraction and people may be given a ticket to pay, just as if they had been caught speeding.

In North Carolina, possession of any amount of cannabis up to 1 ½ ounces is classed as a misdemeanor, and possession of more than 1 ½ ounces is a felony. North Carolina is considered to be a ‘decriminalized’ state because first time offenders possessing ½ ounce or less are subject to a $200 fine and will not serve time, however, the person will still be arrested, and will have a record. Persons in possession of up to 1 ½ ounces may be sentenced to 1 – 45 days jail time and pay a $1000 fine.

For a detailed synopsis of North Carolina law and penalties, see http://norml.org/laws/item/north-carolina-penalties-2

To learn more about the history of decriminalization (and other cannabis-related legislation) in NC, see http://ncnorml.com/2015/10/02/a-brief-history-of-cannabis-legislation-in-north-carolina-from-1977-to-2015/

If you do not agree with the prohibition of cannabis and current laws, we ask that you do your part to change them. To learn more about how to change North Carolina’s cannabis laws, see http://ncnorml.com/2015/03/07/contacting-your-legislator-about-legalizing-cannabis-in-north-carolina

 

Thoughts on Being a Cannabis Activist in the Rip Van Winkle State

In 1819, Washington Irving published the story of Rip Van Winkle, a Colonist living in the Catskill Mountains, who was beloved by his fellow villagers for his friendliness towards all, his folksy stories and affection for children and animals. His one fault was his habit of disappearing whenever there was work to be done. While shirking his duties one afternoon, Van Winkle stumbled upon a group of unusual men playing nine-pin in the woods. Van Winkle drank some of their moonshine, and fell into a stupor for 20 years, awakening to find that his wife had died, his children were grown, and even his own dog did not recognize him. At the local tavern he proclaimed himself a loyal subject of the king, only to learn that he had slept through the American Revolution.

During the early 1800’s some saw a metaphor for North Carolina in the Rip Van Winkle story – the state, though filled with great natural resources and potential – seemed mired in the politics of the past. The state’s leaders were against spending tax money on schools, roads, agricultural reforms, or any other form of economic advancement. Thousands left the state seeking opportunity elsewhere; between 1790 and 1860, the state fell from the third most populous state to twelfth. A new constitution was written in 1835, and more progressive policies enacted, but still changes came slowly. Some of us have watched as North Carolina cycled from conservative policies to progressive policies and back within our lifetimes.

Cannabis activists in today’s North Carolina may reasonably feel that the state is in a stupor or caught in a time warp. Popular movies and television shows portray people from all walks of life smoking pot recreationally, vaporizing doctor-recommended medical marijuana, or eating brownies or medicinal medibles, while it seems most of our legislators and many of our friends and neighbors are still watching “Reefer Madness” at the drive-in theater. The national media has finally begun to pay attention to cannabis; Time, Newsweek and National Geographic have all recently published special issues with intelligent and well researched articles on all facets of cannabis. TV and print reporters are asking presidential candidates where they stand, and some candidates are voluntarily offering up their positions and their histories, perhaps knowing that the time has come for a national discussion. Ye Olde local media outlets are filled with mug shots and stories that do nothing to dispel the myths. Our reporters don’t want to ask politicians whether they inhaled or where they stand, and our politicians sure ain’t gonna bring it up themselves.

We hear about referendums in other states to put medical or legal cannabis on the ballot for citizens to vote on, while our state constitution does not provide a means for citizens to put referenda on the ballot. Multiple cities and counties across the country are decriminalizing possession of personal amounts of cannabis, giving tickets rather than arresting those who are caught with amounts from ½ ounce to up to 1 ½ ounces, depending on the local ordinance. North Carolina is a not a home rule state and all changes to the criminal code must be made by the state legislature, thus city council members rebuff citizen efforts to bring up decriminalization.

North Carolina is a very big state, and while there are cities of great size, much of the population lives in the small towns and rural areas – places where the old ways are the best ways, and people who do use cannabis or who see that our current laws need to be changed, feel uncomfortable coming out and speaking out. Even in the cities, there is often a sense of isolation and fear; people may be new to NC, they may hold jobs in sensitive positions, their families may condemn them for coming out. There thousands and even tens of thousands who may support us privately, but are not willing to speak out. We need to find ways to reach them and let them know it is safe to speak and act. We need to find our allies and let them know we have supported them and their causes, and are happy to do so, yet we need them to have our backs as well.

Who is a cannabis activist in North Carolina? We may be proud to fly to fly the Confederate flag or to march carrying Black Lives Matter signs. We may be Southern Baptist, atheist, Catholic, Jewish, or recent converts to the Church of Cannabis. We may have been born and raised in North Carolina to parents who were born and raised in NC as well or we may be transplants from Texas, New Jersey or South America. We may be feeling the Bern/Ready for Hillary or hope that Rand Paul/Donald Trump/Gary Johnson has political solutions. We may be Second Amendment supporters or believe that there must be changes to our gun laws. Even our feelings about cannabis are diverse – some of us are just ready to grow the heck out of hemp or build a Hempcrete home; some of us are 110% on board with cannabis as medicine; some see the War on Drugs is a war on people, and largely a war on minorities; some of us believe the right to consume marijuana as medicine or as euphoriant is a personal and a civil right; and yes, some of us do just want to get high.

We are a diverse and growing movement and have a lot to learn from each other. The key to changing any of our laws is communication. We must listen to multiple points of view to truly understand how to effectively communicate our own. We may not agree with every other cannabis activist, but when we can learn to discuss instead of cuss, our one million voices can be so much more powerful than one voice.

The opinions expressed above are those of Blogger Ann Twitty Caughran, not NC NORML

A Brief History of Cannabis Legislation in North Carolina from 1977 to 2015

During the 1970’s, lawmakers across the country were faced with an explosion of arrests for marijuana possession. Many legislators were especially concerned that young people from good families would live under the cloud of a felony record for the sole crime of possessing a few joints. In 1977, North Carolina decriminalized possession of marijuana making a first time offense of possession of up to one ounce a misdemeanor with a suspended sentence and a $100.00 fine.

Albert DiChiara and John F. Galliher covered the history of decriminalization in 11 states, including North Carolina in “Dissonance and Contradictions in the Origins of Marihuana Decriminalization” in Law & Society Review, Vol. 28, No. 1. (1994), pp. 41-78.

In 1977 NC legislators debated both a liquor-by-the drink bill and a marijuana decriminalization bill. Editorials in most of the state’s newspapers came out strongly against liquor-by-the drink, and that bill was returned to committee until the short session. In the few papers that covered the decriminalization bill, editorial opinion was mixed. Newspapers noted that since the mid-1960s, drug use was increasing in the state’s colleges, and that marijuana use was even more common among whites than among African Americans. The press reported on “High Noon” at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill where hundreds of students gathered at noon to smoke marijuana at the campus bell tower.

One senator quipped that in Rose Hill “…you can make corn liquor but with a joint you’re going to jail for two years. After football games in the Bell Tower at Chapel Hill as many as 15,000 smoked marihuana with the State Bureau of Investigation, local and county police watching. Do the same thing in Anderson, North Carolina, in the mountains and you were gone.”

Another senator stated, “Last summer my nephew was busted for smoking marihuana . . . and due to the fact that maybe I’ve got somebody with clout over there, this kid got off fairly easily.” In contrast he told the story of another “young boy” who went to prison for possession and was murdered during his incarceration. Another senator observed: “I do not believe that the majority of the people of North Carolina support the concept that fifty or sixty kids in North Carolina ought to be imprisoned for doing what thousands of others have done without any punishment at all”.

The director of the Department of Corrections testified on overcrowding in the state’s prisons, and testified that there should be no imprisonment for alcohol and drug violations. A state commission confirmed that the state prisons were overcrowded and that the state faced the threat of federal court intervention and control. One judge said “When drug use was restricted to young hippies, we could talk about THEM. When it hits the neighbor down the street, it’s US. It’s not what we can do about THEM, now it’s what we can do for US.”

Given all these concerns, a Democratic state representative urged the attorney general to support a decriminalization bill. In July 1977 the attorney general finally came out in support of the bill, justifying it as a means of concentrating on hard drug sales, relieving prison crowding, and of avoiding placing kids in prison with “professional felons.” HB 1325 was passed in the House by a vote of 59-36.

After that change however, North Carolina legislators seemed reluctant to enact further changes regarding marijuana, and some lawmakers during the Reagan era even proposed bills to turn back this modest level of decriminalization. A search of bills on ncleg.net reveals an interesting history of legislative proposals (bills proposed but not passed unless otherwise noted) between 1989 and 2015. The first medical marijuana bill was introduced in 2001, 24 years after the decriminalization bill was enacted into law.

1989 – 1990 Session:

House Bill 1090, Short Title: Possess Marijuana/Increase Penalty sponsored by Democrats Dennis Wicker, George Miller, Jr. and Beverly Perdue – proposed increasing the fine for possession of under ½ ounce to $500.00 and adding no less than 24 hours of community service. Referred to Judiciary Committee, then postponed indefinitely.

1991 – 1992 Session:

Senate Bill 366, Short Title: Marijuana Trafficking sponsored by Republicans John Carter and Robert Carpenter – proposed that possession of 10 pounds of marijuana or 100 plants would be guilty of a felony known as trafficking in marijuana with prison sentences of 5 years and fines of $5,000.00. (The previous limit was 50 pounds). Referred to Judiciary 2.

House Bill 470, Short Title: Marijuana User Accountability sponsored by Republican Coy Privette – proposed increasing the fine for a first conviction to $500.00 and a minimum sentence of no less than 24 hours, which would be suspended only if the defendant performed 8 hours of community service. Referred to Judiciary III.

1993 – 1994 Session:

House Bill 1550 / Senate Bill 1413, Short Title: Increase Penalty for Drug Sales sponsored by Democrat E. David Redwine (multiple cosponsors) in the House and Democrats David Parnell and Charles Alberton in the Senate – Specified that the transfer of less than 5 grams of marijuana for no remuneration would not constitute a delivery. Referred to committees in House and Senate.

1995 – 1996 Session:

House Bill 961, Short Title: Drug Offense Penalties sponsored by Jerry Braswell – proposed that possession of 10 pounds of marijuana or 100 plants would be guilty of a felony known as trafficking in marijuana with prison sentences of 5 years and fines of $5,000.00. Referred to Judiciary II Committee.

Senate Bill 625, Short Title: Change Marijuana Trafficking Amounts sponsored by Republican Patrick Ballentine (multiple cosponsors) – proposed that possession of 10 pounds of marijuana or 100 plants would be guilty of a felony known as trafficking in marijuana with prison sentences of 5 years and fines of $5,000.00. (The previous limit was 50 pounds). Referred to Judiciary 1.

1997 – 1998 Session:

Multiple bills introduced in General Assembly with bi-partisan sponsors or co-sponsors – proposing that possession of 10 pounds of marijuana or 100 plants would be guilty of a felony known as trafficking in marijuana with prison sentences of 5 years and fines of $5,000.00.

2001 – 2002 Session:

House Bill 1240, Short Title: Medical Use of Marijuana/Study, sponsored by Democrat Paul Luebke – proposed that the Legislative Research Commission may study the lawful possession, cultivation, and use of marijuana for the purpose of treating or alleviating pain or other symptoms associated with certain debilitating medical conditions. Referred to Rules Committee and postponed indefinitely. http://ncleg.net/Sessions/2001/Bills/House/HTML/H1240v1.html

2003 – 2004 Session:

House Joint Resolution 1038, Short Title: Study Marijuana Use, sponsored by Democrat Paul Luebke – proposed that the Legislative Research Commission may study the lawful possession, cultivation, and use of marijuana for the purpose of treating or alleviating pain or other symptoms associated with certain debilitating medical conditions. Referred to Rules Committee. http://ncleg.net/Sessions/2003/Bills/House/HTML/H1038v1.html

2005 – 2006 Session:

Senate Bill 1572, Short Title: Study Beneficial Uses of Industrial Hemp, sponsored by Republican Stan Bingham and Democrat Eleanor Kinnaird – proposed a Study Commission to Study the Industrial Uses of Industrial Hemp is created to study the many beneficial industrial uses of industrial hemp, including the use of industrial hemp oil as an alternative fuel and the use of industrial hemp fiber in construction and paper products; to study the economic opportunities industrial hemp provides to the State; and to consider the desirability and feasibility of authorizing industrial hemp cultivation and production as a farm product in North Carolina. Although this was incorporated into Session Law 2006-248 “The Studies Act of 2006” the commission was never formed. http://ncleg.net/Sessions/2005/Bills/Senate/HTML/S1572v1.html

2007 – 2008 Session:

House Joint Resolution 2405, Short Title: LRC Study/Alternative Medicines, sponsored by Democrats Earl Jones, Walter Church, and Mary Price Harrison – proposed the Legislative Research Commission may study whether a public benefit would be derived from making it lawful for physicians to prescribe and patients to possess and use marijuana or its chemical equivalent for medicinal purposes only. Referred to Health Committee. http://ncleg.net/Sessions/2007/Bills/House/HTML/H2405v1.html

2009 – 2010 Session:

House Bill 1380, Short Title: Medical Marijuana Act, sponsored/cosponsored by Democrats Earl Jones, Mary Price Harrison, Nick Mackey, Kelly Alexander, and Susan Fisher – proposed to make only those changes to existing North Carolina laws that are necessary to protect patients and their doctors from criminal and civil penalties and is not intended to change current civil and criminal laws governing the use of marijuana for nonmedical purposes. Referred to Health Committee. http://ncleg.net/Sessions/2009/Bills/House/HTML/H1380v1.html

House Bill 1383, Short Title: Medical Marijuana Act/Referendum, sponsored by Democrat Earl Jones – proposed that the question of whether North Carolina should enact a Medical Marijuana Act allowing the possession and use of Marijuana for medical purposes only shall be submitted to the qualified voters of the State at a statewide election on the question held on November 3, 2009. http://ncleg.net/Sessions/2009/Bills/House/HTML/H1383v1.html

2011 – 2012 Session:

House Bill 324, Short Title: Amend Possession of Marijuana, sponsored by Democrats Kelly Alexander and Larry Hall – proposed that possession of less than one ounce be treated as an infraction rather than a misdemeanor, and for “…person who was convicted of a Class 3 misdemeanor under G.S. 90-95(d)(4) for possession of marijuana before December 1, 2011, and who has not previously been convicted of any felony or misdemeanor other than a traffic violation under the laws of the United States or the laws of this State or any other state may, in the court where the person was convicted, file a petition for expunction of the offense from the person’s criminal record. The petition cannot be filed earlier than (i) two years after the date of the conviction or (ii) the completion of any period of probation, whichever occurs later.” Referred to Rules Committee. http://ncleg.net/Sessions/2011/Bills/House/HTML/H324v1.html

House Bill 577, Short Title: Medical Cannabis Act, sponsored/co-sponsored by Democrats Kelly Alexander, Patsy Keever, Mary Price Harrison, Susan Fisher, and Paul Luebke, and Republican Glen Bradley – proposed to make only those changes to existing North Carolina laws that are necessary to protect patients and their doctors from criminal and civil penalties and is not intended to change current civil and criminal laws governing the use of marijuana for nonmedical purposes. Referred to Rules Committee. http://ncleg.net/Sessions/2011/Bills/House/HTML/H577v1.html

2013 – 2014 Session:

House Bill 84, Short Title: Enact Medical Cannabis Act sponsored/cosponsored by Democrats Kelly Alexander, Mary Price Harrison, Kenneth Brandon, and Paul Luebke – proposed to make only those changes to existing North Carolina laws that are necessary to protect patients and their doctors from criminal and civil penalties and is not intended to change current civil and criminal laws governing the use of marijuana for nonmedical purposes. Referred to Rules Committee, which voted to terminate further discussion of the bill on 2/20/13. http://ncleg.net/Sessions/2013/Bills/House/HTML/H84v1.html

House Bill 637, Short Title: Expunction of Marijuana Offense, sponsored/cosponsored by Democrats Kelly Alexander, Nathan Baskerville, Kenneth Brandon, Carla Cunningham, Beverly Earle, Susan Fisher, Susan Hamilton, Mary Price Harrison, Yvonne Lewis Holley, Annie Ward Mobley, Rodney W. Moore, and Bobbie Richardson – proposed that possession of less than one ounce be treated as an infraction rather than a misdemeanor, and for “…person who was convicted of a Class 3 misdemeanor under G.S. 90-95(d)(4) for possession of marijuana before December 1, 2013, and who has not previously been convicted of any felony or misdemeanor other than a traffic violation under the laws of the United States or the laws of this State or any other state may, in the court where the person was convicted, file a petition for expunction of the offense from the person’s criminal record. The petition cannot be filed earlier than (i) two years after the date of the conviction or (ii) the completion of any period of probation, whichever occurs later.” Referred to Judiciary Subcommittee B. http://ncleg.net/Sessions/2013/Bills/House/HTML/H637v1.html

House Bill 1161, Short Title: Legalize Medical Marijuana/Const. Amendment, sponsored/cosponsored by Kelly Alexander, Carla Cunningham, Susan Hamilton, Mary Price Harrison, and Annie Ward Mobley – proposed that a constitutional amendment making medical use of marijuana legal shall be submitted to the qualified voters of the State at a statewide election on the question held on November 4, 2014. Referred to Judiciary Committee. http://ncleg.net/Sessions/2013/Bills/House/HTML/H1161v1.html

House Bill 1220, Short Title: Hope 4 Hayley and Friends, sponsored by Republicans Patricia McElraft, Marilyn Avila, Jim Fulghum and Democrat Becky Carney with numerous bi-partisan supporters – proposed a pilot study program and registry to investigate the safety and efficacy of hemp extract in the treatment of intractable epilepsy. Neurologists at UNC-Chapel Hill, East Carolina University, Wake Forest University and Duke University were encouraged to conduct studies and provide hemp extract of less than 0.3% THC by weight and least 10% cannabidiol by weight to patients with intractable epilepsy who enrolled in those studies. The Department of Health and Human Services was required to set up a registry of patients, caregivers and neurologists. The bill easily passed through the House and Senate and was signed into law (SL 2014-53) by Governor McCrory. http://ncleg.net/Sessions/2013/Bills/House/HTML/H1220v7.html

2015 – 2016 Session:

House Bill 78, Short Title: Enact Medical Cannabis Act, sponsored/cosponsored by Democrats Kelly Alexander, Becky Carney, Mary Price Harrison, Carla Cunningham, John Ager, Jean Farmer-Butterfield, Susan Fisher, George Graham, Susi Hamilton, Yvonne Lewis Holley, Howard J. Hunter III, Paul Luebke, Rodney Moore, Garland Pierce, and Evelyn Terry – proposed to make only those changes to existing North Carolina laws that are necessary to protect patients and their doctors from criminal and civil penalties and is not intended to change current civil and criminal laws governing the use of marijuana for nonmedical purposes. Referred to Rules Committee, which voted to terminate further discussion of the bill on 3/25/15.

House Bill 317, Short Title: Medical Marijuana for Terminally Ill Patients, sponsored/cosponsored by Democrats Kelly Alexander, Becky Carney, Mary Price Harrison, Carla Cunningham, John Ager, Nathan Baskerville, Beverley Earle, Susan Fisher, George Graham, Susi Hamilton, Yvonne Lewis Holley, Howard J. Hunter III, Paul Luebke, Rodney Moore, Garland Pierce, and Evelyn Terry – proposed an exemption for terminally ill patients in hospice care. http://www.ncga.state.nc.us/Sessions/2015/Bills/House/HTML/H317v1.html

House Bill 766, Short Title: Amend CBD Oil Statute, sponsored/cosponsored by Republicans Patricia McElraft, Marilyn Avila, Brian Brown, Harry Warren, and Larry Yarborough, Democrats Kelly Alexander, Becky Carney, Susi Hamilton, Mary Price Harrison, Yvonne Lewis Holley, Rodney Moore, Michael Wray, and unaffiliated Paul Tine – proposed that board certified neurologists may recommend hemp extract containing less than 0.9% THC by weight and at least 5% cannabidiol by weight to patients with intractable epilepsy without enrolling in pilot studies, and that DHHS set up a database of patients, caregivers and neurologists rather than a registry. Passed both House and Senate and was signed into law (SL2015-154) by Governor McCrory. http://www.ncga.state.nc.us/Sessions/2015/Bills/House/PDF/H766v6.pdf

Senate Bill 313, Short Title: Industrial Hemp, sponsored/cosponsored by Republicans Stan Bingham and Ralph Hise and Democrat Joyce Waddell – proposed that it is in the best interest of the citizens of North Carolina to pro signature on 9/30/mote and encourage the development of an industrial hemp industry in the State in order to expand employment, promote economic activity, and provide opportunities to small farmers for an environmentally sustainable and profitable use of crop lands that might otherwise be lost to agricultural production. The purposes of this Article are to establish an agricultural pilot program for the cultivation of industrial hemp in the State, to provide for reporting on the program by growers and processors for agricultural or other research, and to pursue any federal permits or waivers necessary to allow industrial hemp to be grown in the State. Ratified and sent to Governor McCrory for signature on 9/30/15; became Session Law 2015-299 on 10/31/2015 without McCrory’s signature. http://ncleg.net/Sessions/2015/Bills/Senate/PDF/S313v5.pdf

Sources:

http://www.ncleg.net/EnactedLegislation/SessionLaws/HTML/1977-1978/SL1977-862.html

http://www.mocavo.co.uk/Journal-of-the-House-of-Representatives-of-the-General-Assembly-of-the-State-of-North-Carolina-1977/437169/1171

http://www.epi.msu.edu/janthony/requests/articles/DiChiara_dissonance%20contradictions%20marihuana.pdf

http://scholarship.law.campbell.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1002&context=clr

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.