Tag Archives: marijuana

NC Support for Medical Marijuana at All Time High – 2016

image_doctor marijuana leaf.001

Almost 3 in 4 North Carolinians support doctors’ rights to recommend medical marijuana to patients in need.

According to an April 2016 Public Policy Polling survey in North Carolina 74% of the state is now in favor of allowing doctors to discuss medical marijuana as a source of treatment.

The poll was conducted April 22, 2016 and surveyed 960 North Carolina voters regarding their views on cannabis legalization. The results showed that 18% of the state is against giving doctors the right to recommend medical marijuana and 8% are still undecided.

Those randomly selected for the survey were asked, “Do you think doctors should be allowed to recommend marijuana for medical use, or not?”

The survey was conducted the weekend before House Bill 983, titled “Legalize and Tax Medical Marijuana“, was introduced. If passed, the new law would protect people with severe diseases and specific medical conditions from arrest and prosecution. The bill also sets up guidelines for paying taxes on marijuana as a function of THC content.

Federally, cannabis has been a Schedule I controlled substance since 1970. Schedule I substances are deemed to have a high potential for abuse and no medical value.

Fewer than 10 percent of those who try marijuana ever meet the clinical criteria for dependence, while 32% of tobacco users and 15 percent of alcohol users do. There have been no deaths from marijuana overdose or chronic use according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

The National Cancer Institute (the U.S. government’s branch of cancer research) now recognizes marijuana has cancer cell killing properties.

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….



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.

If you do not agree with the laws, do your part to change them.

Industrial Hemp now Legal in North Carolina


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.

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.

A message from a Medical Patient in NC Cannabis Patients Network

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It’s been a while since we posted on this blog. Activism is difficult work. Mostly because it takes a lot of time and pays no money. This is also uncharted territory for many of us in the South. So there’s also some ingenuity that goes along with our orneriness. We’re making it up as we go along. But there’s something about this issue of marijuana re-legalization the keeps us moving forward diligently.

One of our friends at the North Carolina Cannabis Patients Network (NCCPN.org) sent us his reasons for fighting the good fight. We thought we’d post it here. We think you’ll appreciate and understand his perspective…


The time has come to try new things. As a group we have a real possibility of making Medical Marijuana (MMJ) a campaign issue in NC come election time. This will not happen by itself but will not be as hard as it sounds. We need to educate the public around us to the medical potential of Cannabis. Politicians listen to numbers. We hit some threshold on bill HB84 judging from the reaction we received. When we get the public at large calling and asking for MMJ the politicians will fear for their jobs. We can show up at any political meetings open to the public. There we should ask in public and press view about MMJ. Try to get a poll taken of the room to show public support on the issue. If we keep some pressure on we will get noticed. If the press picks MMJ up as a question we are successful but not done with our job. We will need to nurse this along with pressure from the public at large till the bill passes.

Our job is to take to the streets where you live. Find a public area with pedestrian & street traffic. Make a few signs up talking about the medical properties of MMJ. Print out a few pamphlets or your own handout tuned to your area to hand out to interested passerby’s. A cheap handout is a business card with MMJ info on it. I put links to government studies about MMJ on the back of the card. Not sure of what you will say on your card? Use what is on other cards you have seen and like. I stole half of my card from Sydv.

I know I am asking you to get out of your comfort zone in advocating the issue of MMJ openly. I know I certainly am uncomfortable with the high profile I have taken on here in the Charlotte region. But the need to see unjust laws change is not driven by my needs. I look to the future of my kids and think how much their lives could be improved with early access to safe & sane medicine. I worry about a blot on their arrest record affecting their ability to get a job and secure a future for themselves just because they choose Marijuana over alcohol to relax after work.

If you ask where are our leaders let me assure them we are all hard at work as our conditions allow. Perry Parks is doing great work for the cause by taking on the legislature, finding sponsors and keeping MMJ alive in minds and conversations in that snake pit( legislature floor). Perry has teamed up with NORML and has been seen speaking at their events. Perry has worked hard to grow this organization to the size you see today. Perry is doing more than any of us to make this real. But there is only so much any one person can do. That is where you and I come in. Perry built NCCPN to educate the public about the benefits of medical cannabis and it is time to return the favor and help spread the word.

When you are out spreading the word about MMJ remember that recent polls say North Carolinians like the idea of MMJ. Recreational use is starting to be seen as safe in the general population. The war on drugs is disliked by most Americans. The tide is turning in our favor. We need people that will get out and educate their area and start the conversation to change the laws concerning Marijuana use in North Carolina. Could that be YOU? We need warm, willing bodies to help secure a better future for us all in North Carolina.

Medical marijuana strongly supported by a majority of North Carolinians

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January 14th, 2013

A poll conducted by Public Policy Polling reveals that most North Carolinians believe a doctor should have the right to prescribe marijuana for patients. Support for medical marijuana is at 58% overall, with 33% opposed and 9% undecided. A majority of every age group under age 65 supports medical marijuana. The poll reached 608 North Carolina voters between January 10 and January 13, 2013.

Allen St. Pierre, Executive Director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), said “Those numbers are significant and somewhat surprising. Support for marijuana law reform is at an all-time high nationally, but we had expected public opinion in the South to be significantly different from the national numbers. It looks instead like citizens everywhere recognize the need for changing strategies and stopping the War on Drugs, notably the war against the marijuana plant and it’s consumers.”

Perry Parks, a Vietnam veteran and long-time advocate for medical marijuana in North Carolina, said the poll shows that people everywhere have come to see the need for a more compassionate approach to marijuana. “There are tens of thousands of vets who get some relief from their wounds from this herb. Plus, everyone I talk to knows someone who is suffering from cancer, neurological disease, or other debilitating problem. The government can no longer lie about the effects of marijuana—these people know it helps them. Why we won’t support our vets and put this medicine back in the hands of doctors, where it was until the 1940s, still baffles and frustrates me. The Veterans Administration will not treat a vet in North Carolina who uses cannabis. Yet they’ll treat that same vet, with the same problems, in the eighteen states that have medical marijuana.”

Parks’ organization, the North Carolina Cannabis Patients’ Network, continues to urge the legislature to pass a bill allowing medical marijuana. Parks said a rally in support of the legislation would be held at the legislative building in Raleigh on February 12. “I have spoken to many legislators who say privately that they understand the need to change our approach to marijuana, at least for disabled veterans and others who suffer from debilitating disease. But the public, as this poll shows, is way out in front of our politicians on this issue. Our bill, a carefully-drafted one that draws on the best features of the eighteen states that have already acted, did not even receive a committee hearing in the 2011 session of the General Assembly. We hope people from all across the state will join us on February 12 to show their support for a more compassionate approach this year.”

Jon Kennedy, an officer with the North Carolina branch of NORML, said the poll results confirm what his organization has believed all along. “The people of North Carolina are beginning to understand that marijuana is safer than alcohol and are demanding a change in how we spend our tax dollars. Just because someone is politically and socially conservative doesn’t mean they blindly support failed policies like the War on Drugs. In fact, many conservatives accurately see this as another example of government overreach. Why are we wasting billions of dollars of taxpayer money arresting people for a non-toxic plant that can actually improve their quality of life? Why don’t we take the law enforcement resources we devote to marijuana and use them instead to pursue violent criminals? Sure, there can be drawbacks with overuse of anything we ingest, but those are better handled by education and personal responsibility than by the criminal justice system. It’s past time that we broke the taboo on discussing this openly in North Carolina. We should join the serious national conversation now underway.”

And of course, the best way to get involved is to join and donate to NORML.

Understanding the Legislative Process in North Carolina

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Are you familiar with the legislative process in North Carolina?  NORML of North Carolina can help you wade through all the political mumbo jumbo and spell it out clearly for you! The following blog details how a bill is introduced and turn into law. This process is what every NC NORML member, supporter, or activist needs to know to get the job done. Without knowledge of this process, we have no direction, no battle plan. States such as California, Washington, and Colorado all used the ‘ballot by initiative’ process, which we DO NOT have here in NC. This alone is perhaps our biggest hurdle. The initiative process allows citizens to write a proposed ordinance or law, then collect a certain percentage of signatures of registered voters. Should they receive enough signatures in the allotted time frame, the proposal will appear on the ballot for every citizen to decide, rather than the state legislature. Again, we do not have this process statewide so we cannot bypass the state legislature. There are select cities that allow it, but medical marijuana or full legalization will not be made into North Carolina law in this matter.

We often have supporters asking, sometimes even complaining, “why don’t we have medical marijuana yet in NC? How come NC NORML hasn’t done anything?”  Well, here is the most important key to our success, so learn it by heart, and contact your legislators! Everything we do here in NC, including educating the public, is basically to push bills through this process. Raising funds, buying ad space, conducting statewide polls, doing rallies, running the web pages, putting together legislative educational materials, etc are all for the sole purpose of representing each of you to the legislature for marijuana reform bills to be passed. Please take the time to read this and understand it. If you have further questions, you know how to reach us!

NC Legislative Process:

Step 1 – Drafting
The first step involves writing the bill (a proposed law). Anyone can draft a bill, but it can only be introduced by an elected State Representative or State Senator. If you involve one of these legislators in the drafting of the bill, they will be much more likely to sponsor and introduce the bill. The more sponsors we have supporting a bill before it is introduced, the better.

Step 2 – Introduction
Introduction of a bill is simply presenting it to the rest of the General Assembly (the state House and Senate). The bill first must get turned in to the Principal Clerk, where it is given a number. The next day, during the regularly scheduled “Introduction of Bills and Resolutions” time, the bill number, title, and name of the bill’s sponsor(s) get read aloud. The bill typically gets referred to a committee immediately after, by the Speaker of the House (House bills) or President Pro Tempore (Senate bills).

Step 3 – Committees
The various committees a bill will go through depend on the nature of the bill. Committees are groups of Representatives (in the House) or groups of Senators (in the Senate) that review a bill, offer recommendations relating to specific items within it, and may even suggest amendments be made to the proposed bill (any member not in the committee may also propose a change). For instance, a medical marijuana bill is very likely to go through the Health and Human Services committee, but not the Public Utilities committee. It is common for bills to be referred to several committees.

Last legislative session (2011-2012), the medical marijuana and decriminalization bills got sent to the committee on House Rules, Calendar, and Operations, where they were never let out or considered further. This is often seen as a power move, called “killing a bill.” Last year North Carolina’s marijuana bills died because of this. This problem was largely due to the committee chairman, who was against the bills. The chairman is essentially the person in charge of the committee, and allows, or disallows, other committee members the opportunity to present bills, approve amendments, etc. On the fortunate side, this man, Stephen LaRoque, has been removed from the Legislature, and is now being tried for several felonies relating to embezzlement and fraud!

The committee period is also one of the opportune times for the public to weigh in on the bill. If allowed by the committee, the public may present testimony, advice, or scientific facts to the legislators in that committee. This is one of the big days we all need to be prepared for!

Step 4 – Consideration
The bill is first considered by the house it was introduced in (House or Senate). The medical marijuana and decriminalization bills were introduced in the House last session. The House Chair, who in essence is the leader of the entire House chosen by the majority party, will recognize the committee chairman that is recommending the bill be passed. The bill is then explained, and arguments for or against are heard. Depending on the bill, there may be many advocates or opponents, or the bill may easily pass. To be passed, the bill is voted on by all members of the house it was introduced in, and if they approve by majority vote, the bill is past it’s second reading, but is read again and must pass it’s third reading to be moved to the next house (there may be more debate). Once in the opposite house, in this case the Senate, it is read, sent to committee(s), and upon approval is debated and voted on during the 2nd and 3rd readings. For example, if the medical bill was discussed and passed in the House, it would then move to the Senate, where it must repeat the process there.

Here’s a breakdown:
1st reading – the bill is introduced;
2nd reading – after the bill makes it through committee so changes are known by all members of the house, then voted on;
3rd reading – after the first vote, sometimes taking place on a different day than the 2nd reading.
After the 3rd reading, if the vote is in majority supporting the bill, it moves to the next house.

Step 5 – Concurrence
Since the bill has been sent to two different houses, where they can each make various changes to the bill in committee(s), the two bills must be reconciled so they read the same. For example, if the bill was passed in the House with the phrase, “10 ounces of marijuana may be possessed by a medical patient,” but is passed with the phrase, “12 ounces of marijuana may be possessed by a medical patient,” in the Senate, then the Senate must ask the House if they approve of the change in terms. If the House agrees, then the bill is ready to be signed as law. If the House disagrees, then members from both the House and Senate are appointed to a conference committee. If they can agree upon a change, say 11 ounces, then they present it to both houses to vote on the recommended change to the text. If they agree, then the bill is ready to be signed into law, but if they disagree, then the bill is defeated.

Step 6 – Enrollment, Ratification, and Publication
Enrollment is the preparation of a new copy of the bill, with all passed amendments. The presiding officer from each house signs this copy. Now, the bill has been ratified. Once ratified, the Governor has 10 days to act on the bill to approve or veto it, or in other words approve or refuse the bill, in the case of the latter, the bill will be sent back to the General Assembly for an additional vote (it must receive a 3/5 approval to override the Governor’s veto). If the Governor takes no action, the bill automatically becomes law. If the Governor approves and signs the bill, the bill will no longer be a bill, and becomes official North Carolina law!

So what should YOU do?
This entire process is why we constantly urge you to vote in local elections to get marijuana supporting legislators elected, contact your legislators OFTEN (by phone, e-mail, letters, or even better in person), and show up on legislative days to support marijuana reform bills. There are literally thousands of bills that get introduced each legislative session, so if we aren’t vocal about our right to use marijuana, they will simply toss it aside and work on another bill instead. We have an uphill battle with the manner NC government is set up, so present facts and supportive statements to your legislators about marijuana!

And of course, the best way to get involved is to join and donate to NORML.

Here is the link to the NC General Assembly, get familiar with it!!