Tag Archives: Kelly Alexander

HB 983 – North Carolina’s Medical Marijuana Bill (2016)

North Carolina’s newest Medical Marijuana bill is making its way through House subcommittees. It is titled “Legalize and Tax Medical Marijuana”.

On April 26, 2016 Rep. Kelly Alexander introduced HB 983. This bill, if passed, would make it legal for patients to possess marijuana for personal use. This bill currently has a total of 12 sponsors – 11 Democrats and one Republican.

This year’s medical marijuana bill protects patients who are in possession of cannabis. Medical marijuana would be legal to have if a patient has documentation from a licensed physician and has paid all applicable taxes.

There are no provisions for growing or buying medical marijuana from a dispensary with this bill.

Here are the basics of HB 983…

Qualifying Criteria to possess marijuana with THC legally in North Carolina:

  • Patient must be diagnosed with a terminal or chronic illness
  • Patients must have a physician’s written recommendation for the patient to use cannabis to treat the disease’s underlying symptoms
  • Patients must purchase a Marijuana Tax Stamp from the NC Department of Revenue (Note: Marijuana tax stamps are already available for purchase today.)
  • Marijuana must only be for the patient’s personal use.
  • No more than three ounces of marijuana may be possessed at a given time.

 

Taxation Rates

  • Marijuana stalks and stems are taxed at a rate of $8.00 per ounce
  • Plus an additional…
    • $7.08 per ounce, if the marijuana is less than 5% THC by weight
    • $14.15 per ounce, if the marijuana is between 5% and 10% THC
    • $21.24 per ounce, if the marijuana is between 10% and 15% THC
    • $28.32 per ounce, if the marijuana is between 15% and 20% THC
    • $35.40 per ounce, if the marijuana is between 20% and 25% THC
    • $42.48 per ounce, if the marijuana is great than 25% THC.

According to an April, 2016 Public Policy Polling survey, 74% of North Carolinians support a doctor’s right to recommend marijuana to patients who may benefit from the plant.

Everyone in North Carolina who has a personal need for medical cannabis or knows someone who has benefited from treating their conditions with cannabis are highly encouraged to contact their representatives. Medical marijuana bills have not gained much traction in the North Carolina General Assembly. Through polling of representatives, the reason all previous medical marijuana bills have failed is largely due to the fact that our legislators do not know cannabis is safe and effective. They need to be informed.

Please contact your representative to encourage him or her to co-sponsor HB 983. If you don’t know who your representative is, read this article….

https://ncnorml.com/2015/01/29/who-represents-me-in-north-carolinas-state-congress/

 

If you already know who represents you in state congress, the following is a guide for reaching out and encouraging them to support this bill.

https://ncnorml.com/2015/03/07/contacting-your-legislator-about-legalizing-cannabis-in-north-carolina/
If you do not agree with the laws, do your part to change them.

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

Rep. Kelly Alexander’s Advice for Marijuana Law Reform

On March 23, 2013 Representative Kelly Alexander addressed Charlotte NORML and shared his ideas for reforming marijuana laws in North Carolina.

Representative Alexander was the sponsor of North Carolina’s Medical Cannabis Act – House Bill 84. That bill was famously killed in committee and followed up by callous comments by Paul Stam. Apparently, NORML’s approach to reforming marijuana laws in North Carolina didn’t jive with how Rep. Stam and his peers like to do business in the General Assembly. So NC NORML asked Kelly Alexander for some tips on making sure the next marijuana related bill gets passed.

Here’s what Representative Alexander had to say…

North Carolina’s Medical Cannabis Act is a no-brainer. The federal government is moving to a passive posture and is allowing states to do what they want. However, there was opposition to the bill in post parties in the NC legislature. And this is strange since individually members of the NC General Assembly will all tell personal stories about family members who have been helped by marijuana and know doctors who would prescribe it.  They’ll also tell stories about how legal medications don’t work and have long lasting negative side effects.

There was a MoveOn.org petition that asked people to show support for medical marijuana law reform in North Carolina. The online petition received about 10,000 responses – most of which were from North Carolina. In another group show of support, many of the other representatives complain to Rep. Alexander that “your people are clogging up my email.” Our combined voices are large.

The problem in passing legislation in the South is that people are too afraid and too few people want to speak up. Too often people interested in drug policy change are reluctant to be engaged on the front end.

The first challenge is to get more people to speak up about the need to end the failed drug war and to get marijuana into the hands of people who can benefit from the plant. Currently the federal government’s arm of cancer research – National Cancer Institute (cancer.gov) – states clearly that marijuana has cancer cell killing properties. The cat is totally out of the bag regarding the medicinal properties of marijuana, but yet citizens still cower with the fear that speaking up will incriminate them, cause them to lose their job or become targeted as an illegal marijuana user.

Despite being profound, the statements at the National Cancer Institute are still not enough to persuade the North Carolina legislators. To give others the confidence to speak up, we must seek resolutions through some of the medical societies so the anti-marijuana arguments can be effectively removed.

In the upcoming election cycle, it is important for cannabis sympathizers to show up to forums and ask questions about drug policy. We must all ask the candidates about medical marijuana. If the candidate is opposed to it, ask why. When we get people on this side of the discussion its tough for them to support their decision. ‘Because marijuana is a Schedule I substance’ is an often cited reason for being against legalization, we must ask people who are running for congress if they recommend changing the marijuana scheduling.

Because NORML has chapters across the state, we must hold forums and engage candidates. “There was a bill in last session that you didn’t support… why?” It’s an uncomfortable question for politicians running for re-election to be faced with publicly. We must hold their feet to the fire in a respectful yet public way.

When NORML starts publicizing what candidates’ view are (pros and cons) citizens remember that when they go to the polls.

Future Legislative Action Days will be required. We have a right to petition to get laws changed. That’s why legislative action days work. On February 12, 2013 NCCPN (North Carolina Cannabis Patients Network) organized a rally in Raleigh to show support for HB 84. About 400 people showed up who were all well mannered. Many of them made appointments with their representatives. (It’s VERY important to make appointments to meet with your representative to make sure your voice is heard.)

Rep Paul Stam was quoted widely about being annoyed and harassed by supporters of this bill. As activists we should see this as a sign we have their attention. The next step is to take that number of people who showed up in February and multiply it. Next time make it 600… then 1000… then 1500. We need to get as many folks as we can get expressing their views on what needs to change.Paul-Stam NC Representative

Peacefully assemble. Pack the General Assembly Mall in Raleigh. Demonstrate that it’s time to change drug policy. Even though this will take work, our message will be clear.

And that’s the next challenge… We can’t get that many people to the mall to demonstrate at future legislative action days without some work. We have to talk to people. We have to organize transportation. We have to line-up good speakers. We must get folks within the political establishment interested in change to be willing to address the group.

The bad news is that because of the “unfavorable” ruling given by the House Rules Committee to the Medical Cannabis Act, no new medical marijuana legislation can be introduced until after the 2014 election cycle. That’s a long time. But it also gives us time to organize and plan for the next legislative action day. We should target to have 1000 people show up at the next one. Why? Because that short session is before the next election. Then we will follow up with forums.

Another method we can use to change the laws requires a bit of psychology. We all know that there are stereotypes of the marijuana culture. When legislators have a particular idea of what a pot smoker looks and talks like, they will suffer from a useful bout of cognitive dissonance when they meet a supporter who doesn’t fit that stereotype. They begin questioning their basic assumptions when we’re well spoken and socially polished.

So be the best stoner you can be. Remove doubt in EVERYONE’s minds that pot makes you lazy. Or makes you a paranoid conspiracy theorist. Or causes you to forget what you’re talking about in the middle of a conversation. Find the right balance of marijuana in your life and still be organized in the areas that you care about – especially socially. Public opinion will change when we get our collective acts together.

Make sure this is a discussion with people who are not just your friends. Visit other forums ready to engage people in a way that they will respect you and your perspective.

And finally, the most important task we must all do – VOTE!  And contribute to candidates who support your positions. Volunteer with candidates’ offices and at the voting booth. Get involved in the political process. This all takes work by people who are reliable and diligent.

In the end, just remember that if the Medical Cannabis Act had passed in North Carolina, the state would have seen taxation revenues around $100 million and kept people out of the court and prison system.

To summarize, we need more doctors and institutes to speak out on marijuana’s efficacy. We need to plan the next legislative action day (and call it “Paul Stam day”) and have a huge rally that is visually exciting. Make sure everyone wears green and have someone waving a flag around with a big pot leaf on it. And, most importantly, stay active and contribute. That’s the only way this is going to work.

We are citizens and change requires that we all get involved.

Medical Marijuana Rally – February 12, 2013 in Raleigh

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What is this upcoming medical marijuana event?
NORML of North Carolina, NCCPN and perhaps hundreds of other concerned citizens are rallying to show support of the new medical marijuana bill in North Carolina. This is being touted as the Medical Cannabis Act Legislative Day. This bill will allow safe access for people seeking relief from several different conditions and diseases. Attendance at this rally will show legislators that this is an issue that people in North Carolina care about.

A recent survey conducted by Public Policy Polling revealed 58% of North Carolinians support a doctor’s right to prescribe marijuana.

Lunch will be provided after everyone has had a chance to meet with their representative. Afterwards a medical doctor will speak about how the human endocannabinoid system works in the main auditorium. This will be a great time to meet like-minded people from across the state.

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.

When will this event be held?
February 12, 2013 (Tuesday)
Arrive at 9am for a rally and meet with your Representative. (Call today for an appointment).

Don’t know your Representative?
Click here for NORML’s comprehensive guide to finding and contacting your Representative

Or click here to see the North Carolina General Assembly page

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

We will actually be meeting at Halifax Mall behind the Legislative Building.
This outdoor green space connects the State Legislative Building at the South with other state government buildings. Look for the crowds of medical marijuana supporters and people wearing bright orange shirts. They have information about where to go.

If it rains, the main auditorium is on reserve for us all day.

Etiquette Tip:
We’re trying to influence government officials. Please dress and behave like an upstanding citizen. Also, no one is persuaded by angry words and threats. Be objective and understanding. Not everyone sees the issue our way… yet.

If you’re interested in carpooling, the North Carolina Cannabis Patients Network is organizing rideshares.

Why should I go?
To show your support for North Carolina’s new medical marijuana bill. It is being filed this week by Representative Kelly Alexander. A version of this same bill was introduced during the previous General Assembly session but died in committee (i.e. it was ignored until time ran out). People must come out in large numbers to show they want this bill passed. Showing your support does not incriminate you in any way as a user of marijuana. Many people understand the medicinal benefits of marijuana and are demanding that compassionate laws be passed. This is an issue we can all get behind.

In order for this bill to pass, enough Representatives must care about the issue. For them to care, everyone (and this means YOU) must contact the Representative’s office by phone or mail or in person. Preferably all three. We must let our Representatives know that marijuana really is medicine. Show your support. Be respectful. Do it early and do it often.

NOTE: North Carolina NORML’s mission is to grow local chapters, educate the public about the benefits of the end of cannabis prohibition, and influence the legislators. If you support changing marijuana laws in North Carolina, please consider making a contribution to NC NORML today.

NC NORML Donation Page

NC NORML Billboard Fundraiser Page