Category Archives: Hemp

Industrial Hemp now Legal in North Carolina

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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.

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 Hemp (the original creators of Charlotte’s Web CBD oil) which can be obtained through CWHemp.com.

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 843-222-9322.

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
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

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

Who Represents Me in North Carolina’s State Congress?

In North Carolina to pass a medical marijuana bill or legalize industrial hemp, we must persuade our representatives and senators in the General Assembly. Voters do not have the option of gathering enough signatures to put a referendum or initiative on the ballot. Instead we are dependent on our lawmakers to introduce these bills and to pass them with their counterparts in state Congress.

So to be effective North Carolina NORML encourages people to contact their representative and State Senator to find out how they stand on the issue of legalizing cannabis to varying degrees. Today most of North Carolina’s General Assembly feels that drugs are bad, marijuana is a drug, and therefore marijuana is bad. End of discussion. We need to reach out to each of them individually and engage them in this conversation with humility and compassion.

The first step is to know who your representatives are. Use this simple guide to find out today.

Go to the North Carolina General Assembly’s website
www.ncleg.net

Find your representative in the House
Click on House.
Click on House Member List.
Locate your county and district. This will provide your Representative.
Click on your Representative’s name. This will provide the Representative’s contact information.

Find your senator
Click on Senate.
Click on Senate Members List.
Locate your county and district. This will provide your Senator.
Click on your Senator’s name. This will provide the Senator’s contact information.

Now you know. The next step is to contact them politely by phone and by hand written letter. Ask them their stance on medical marijuana, industrial hemp, and full legalization.

When you make contact with them, and you know how they stand on these issues, let us know through Facebook or email.

Info@ncnorml.org

Around the South – Progress on Marijuana and Industrial Hemp Legislation

Several Southern states have passed medical marijuana and industrial hemp bills. Others are on the cusp. Do you know which ones have already? Read on to determine where you or your family members may be traveling before you purchase that one-way ticket to Denver.

 

Tennessee
Industrial hemp

A bill legalizing the cultivation of industrial hemp unanimously passed the Tennessee Senate April 9th. The Governor’s signature remains. Once Governor Haslam signs the bill, the Department of Agriculture will have three months to begin developing rules regarding the issuance of hemp seeds to farmers and regulating crops. Tennessee is about to become the 13th state to legalize industrial hemp in the U.S.

Medical Marijuana
The House and Senate have both passed a bill funding a four year study into the effects of CBD in treating epileptic seizures. While the Koozer-Kuhn bill, a broader medical marijuana bill similar to those that have passed in 21 other states, did not pass, Tennessee looks like it will join Alabama as another Southern state to pass a CBD-only bill once it gains the Governor’s signature.

 

Alabama
Medical Marijuana
Governor Bentley signed Carly’s Law after the bill passed both chambers of state congress unanimously. Originally the bill’s success looked bleak, but a ground swell of public support strongly persuaded lawmakers to re-examine the issue. Carly’s Law legalizes the use of CBD-oil for medicinal use. The bill allows the University of Alabama at Birmingham UAB’s Department of Neurology to prescribe the oil for qualifying patients.

 

Georgia
Medical Marijuana
The Peachtree state was almost the first Southern state to pass a medical marijuana bill. Even though the bill passed the House with only 4 nay votes, one senator effectively killed the bill when she added non-marijuana qualifiers that the rest of the Senate would not pass. Now the Governor is outlining options to import CBD-oils from GW Pharmaceuticals, a British company working on a CBD based product that will have FDA approval.

 

Kentucky

The state’s Attorney General has indicated that farmers will indeed be able to sell industrial hemp cultivated in Kentucky. There are no acreage restrictions on the amount of hemp a Kentucky farmer may grow. Kentucky is farther along the industrial hemp path than its Southern neighbors, so Tennessee farmers are able to see looming problems – how to obtain the seeds. Customs agents have already intercepted many seeds at the country’s borders and have been sending them back. The hope is to find a solution soon as hemp growing season begins the first week in May.

 

North Carolina
There are no new bills filed yet, but this blog post shows which cannabis related bills are still alive in North Carolina. Remember what happened in Alabama – the medical marijuana bill looked doomed, but once the people spoke up and demanded the state congress pass the legislation Alabama was turned into the first Southern state passing legislation explicitly allowing the use of marijuana based CBD-oil for medicinal use.

If enough people speak up across the state, North Carolina can also make a difference. NORML asks that you do your part and look into helping make North Carolina part of the national discussion.

A History of North Carolina Cannabis Legislation (Living and Dead)

For even longer than NORML has existed in North Carolina, legislators have been pushing to pass some form of legislation to make cannabis accessible. Even though the state is technically decriminalized (there is no mandatory jail time for possession under 1.5 ounces), there has been little progress made towards providing safe access to medical patients or allowing farmers to cultivate industrial hemp.

NORML of North Carolina has a goal to push the legislators in Raleigh to pass bills that incrementally move the state closer to full legalization of the plant. In the mean time, here is a run down of the bills we’ve hung our hopes on over the years. Expect a few more in this year’s short session of the General Assembly.

* House Bills with an asterisk are still alive.

NC Medical Cannabis Act (there have been three attempts)
2009 – HB 1380 dies in the the Health Committee without vote
2011 – HB 577 dies in the Rules Committee without vote.
2013 – HB 84 is discussed in Rules Committee but is infamously killed with a disfavorable ruling due to its annoying popularity.

* Marijuana Legislative Research Commission
2013 – HB 941 is still alive and currently parked in the Rules Committee. If passed, it would require funding and qualified staffing to perform the required research.

* Industrial hemp commission
2006 – S1570 This bill to study the benefits of industrial hemp cultivation was passed but never funded or authorized.

* Expunction of Marijuana Convictions
2013 – HB 637 is still alive and currently in limbo. This bill was referred to Judiciary Subcommittee B on 04/10/2013

De-criminalization of small amounts of marijuana
2011 – HB 324 died in Rules Committee without vote

 

Perhaps the next bill will capture the legislators’ public’s attention enough to make new laws. Today the North Carolina media is riding the wave of the benefits of CBD – a non-psychoactive chemical found in both marijuana and industrial hemp. This popularity was created by a CNN documentary that showcased its anecdotal efficacy in treating severe forms of epilepsy.

North Carolina is currently controlled by a strongly conservative legislature, so the people’s powers of persuasion must hinge on talking points that resonate with those in power. We have much rational and charismatic work to do requiring great patience.

Until then, we ask that if you do not agree with the laws, do your part to change them. Speak openly with your friends and family about marijuana and industrial hemp. Listen to their concerns. Do your part to feed the statewide dialogue.

And, we sincerely ask that you consider volunteering with NORML or donating to support its efforts today.

 

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

Hemp Now Legal to Cultivate – but not in North Carolina

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NOTE: Since the original publication of this article, North Carolina passed SB313 allowing for the legal cultivation of industrial hemp. Read more about North Carolina’s status as a hemp producing state here.

A provision in the new $1.1 trillion U.S. Farm Bill allows for the legal cultivation of industrial hemp –  in states that allow it. Once the bill passes (and it is expected to pass at the time of this article), colleges and universities will be allowed to grow hemp for research. This addition to the farm bill suggests the country is ready for the conversation about the benefits of the cannabis sativa plant and the reason it has been illegal for decades.

Currently 11 states allow hemp cultivation. Those states with hemp-friendly laws are Kentucky, West Virginia, Maryland, Vermont, Maine, Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, Oregon, Washington and Hawaii.

To underscore the readiness of this change, the American Farm Bureau Federation has formally approved a new policy urging the removal of hemp as a controlled substance. This adopted policy secures the most influential farm lobbying organization in the pro-hemp camp.

Industrial hemp and marijuana are both part of the species of plant called Cannabis Sativa. Hemp is similar to marijuana with the exception that hemp contains no psychoactive chemicals that result in the characteristic “high” associated with marijuana. As of this writing hemp is illegal to grow at the national and state level, but is legal to import and process into textiles, paper, biofuels and food.

As North Carolina struggles with its lost textile manufacturing industry and the continued obsolescence of tobacco farms, allowing farmers the ability to cultivate hemp would make sense economically. A recent survey conducted by Public Policy Polling (and funded by NORML of North Carolina) shows nearly half of North Carolina voters believe farmers should be allowed to grow the crop.

There are no active bills regarding industrial hemp cultivation. The last time hemp was brought up in state congress was in 2005, when a bill was passed authorizing the study of industrial hemp. This bill went unfunded and was the last time North Carolina had a serious discussion about the benefits of industrial hemp.

The only way for North Carolina to change its laws is for people to let their representatives know how they feel about the hemp laws. North Carolina can not vote on new legislation through ballot initiatives. States like Colorado and Washington passed cannabis friendly laws by gathering enough signatures to put the decision to popular vote. This isn’t an option in North Carolina. Instead voters are dependent on their Representatives and Senators to pass appropriate legislation. Despite a strong percentage of North Carolina being in favor of legalizing marijuana and hemp, these bills have all been ignored and killed in the legislature.

NORML of North Carolina knows it is time for a change in laws, but the organization’s efforts are only as strong as its participants. Please consider being an advocate for the re-legalization of cannabis in North Carolina by joining NORML of North Carolina today.