Updated January 14, 2014
Welcome to the NC Medical Cannabis web site, a clearinghouse for information about efforts to bring legislation to allow safe and legal cannabis for patients in North Carolina.
New January 2014 Poll Shows Support for Marijuana Law Reform in North Carolina at an All Time High
A poll conducted by national pollster PPP the weekend of January 12, 2014, shows a strong majority of North Carolina voters believe doctors should be allowed to prescribe marijuana for medicinal use, and over half of NC voters consider marijuana as safer than alcohol. According to a nationwide CNN poll last week, nearly 75% of Americans think alcohol is more dangerous than marijuana.
The results, when compared to a 2013 opinion poll, show significant growth in voter support for marijuana legal reform, including legalization for adult responsible use and for medical use.
Support is also strong for allowing NC farmers to grow industrial hemp. (This is the first year a hemp-related question has been polled.) Industrial hemp is similar to the marijuana plant, except hemp contains no psychoactive chemicals. According to federal law, hemp is currently illegal to grow but is legal to import and process into textiles, paper, biofuels and food. This is a significant missed economic opportunity for North Carolina: for the farmers who could be producing this lucrative crop, and for those who wish to manufacture hemp food and fiber products in NC.
Jon Kennedy, an officer with the state chapter of NORML, said the poll results confirm North Carolina is following the nationwide trend of increasing marijuana awareness. “The people of North Carolina are beginning to understand that marijuana is safer than alcohol and are eager for a change in how we spend our tax dollars.”
NORML of North Carolina is a non-profit organization with a mission to move public opinion sufficiently to legalize the responsible use of marijuana by adults.
“Marijuana really is medicine. A recent CNN documentary about its ability to treat severe forms of epilepsy has given hope to families with children suffering from hundreds of seizures a day. The National Cancer Institute [cancer.gov] now recognizes marijuana has cancer cell killing properties. The fact that the plant is effectively non-toxic with no confirmed deaths from overdose suggests it is time for a reform of North Carolina’s marijuana laws,” added Kennedy.
According to a 2013 report by the American Civil Liberties Union, in North Carolina, African Americans were arrested for marijuana possession at 3.4 times the rate of whites, despite comparable marijuana usage rates. The report, Marijuana in Black and White: Billions of Dollars Wasted on Racially Biased Arrests, released today, is the first ever to examine state and county marijuana arrest rates nationally by race. Statewide, North Carolina law enforcement made 20,983 marijuana arrests in 2010 – the 10th most in the nation – and marijuana possession arrests accounted for 53.6 percent of all drug arrests in North Carolina in 2010. These arrests came at the cost of over $55,000,000 to NC taxpayers in 2010 alone!
Law enforcement budgets throughout the state are significantly enhanced by the current drug laws, from special grants, overtime pay, and fines and forfeiture of citizens' personal properties (homes, cars, etc.) and this financial conflict of interest hampers unfettered dialogue about this issue. However, despite the current prohibition, marijuana is widely used in NC - according to the U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, about 1 in 5 young adults aged 18-26 are regular marijuana users and about 1 in 10 adults over aged 26 are regular (past month) users.
People who use marijuana come from all socioeconomic, and ethnic backgrounds, and of all age groups; however arrests are disproportionately made on minority, youth and other disadvantaged populations, such as the mentally ill. There is no evidence that the current prohibition policies keep NC safer, reduce misuse or benefit the greater community in any way. Even the President recently commented that he thought (legal) alcohol was a more harmful substance than marijuana.
There is an emerging consensus that current marijuana laws harm families, and they must be changed in NC.
NORML of North Carolina
Jon Kennedy, Secretary
P.O. Box 5451
Charlotte North Carolina 28299
NORML - National Offices
Allen St. Pierre,
National Executive Director
1600 K Street, NW
Washington, DC 20006-2832
Public Policy Polling
2912 Highwoods Blvd., Suite 201
Raleigh, NC 27604
What happened to Medical Cannabis legislation in NC in 2013?
As most of you know, last Feb 20, 2013 in Raleigh was a sad loss for democracy and citizen involvement in the Tar Heel state. Our elected representatives, when meeting in the NC House Rules Committee, in a motion introduced by Rules Committee Vice Chair Paul "Skip" Stam, voted an "unfavorable" for HB 84, The 2013 Proposed NC Medical Cannabis Act - which ends HB 84 and any senate or other house versions of this bill for this 2013-2014 Session. A very sad day... but no time for despair. Despite the harsh and cold dismissal of this bill, the (Tea Party Republican leadership's) inhumane response to the citizens' calls to forward the bill is not out of character for this most reactionary legislature in recent history that is out of step with the people of North Carolina.
The bill: HB 84- Introduced February 7, 2013 - Killed in the Rules Committee February 20, 2013
The excuse given for voting the bill "unfavorable" was in response to what was termed "harassing" amounts of emails and phone calls. It is shocking that a bill would be dismissed because of citizen interest and passion.
Time to Kick-Start the South
Without dwelling on the unenlightened who chose to dismiss the bill without consideration, supporters of state regulated medical cannabis need to foster the new allies we have made in the last months since the bill was introduced and summarily dismissed, and since we saw the continued unmitigated attack on citizens' education, healthcare, environment and community safety that the current legislature undertook in NC this Legislative Session.
We have increased citizen awareness about the medical advances made in cannabinoid medicine, and we have learned of more health professionals who show the courage to step up for patient rights.
We are developing an educational outreach effort to address the prevalent misinformation about the risk profile of cannabis and the harms related to the ongoing demonization of marijuana in the South. Through our efforts, we helped more citizens understand the harsh public health toll taken on suffering citizens who get ensnared in the tangle of the criminal justice system and get labeled "drug offenders".
Look for Our Roll Out of New South Strategy in 2014
We knew it would be a steep climb. For those who need medicine now, at least there are states where they can seek asylum. For the rest of us, we need to learn from today's events, remember this on election day, and focus on education and outreach in the most civil manner possible. Harsh rhetoric has raised hackles on our opponents and emotional pleas for mercy have fallen on deaf ears.
But we should not give up on making our beautiful North Carolina a kinder place to live. North Carolina is America's Swing State and sociocultural change in this region has ripple effects that can sway the overall national perspective. And with the enough support for our grassroots, homegrown efforts, to quote the iconic songwriter N Young, "Southern change gonna come at last."
Please remember that activists serve as diplomats for our cause. Please be civil, legal and respectful at all times.