BY JAY SMOKER
The North Carolina Medical Cannabis Act, or House Bill 84, was introduced into the State House of Representatives on February 7th, 2013. This is the third session in a row that citizens and lawmakers have teamed together in an effort to pass legislation in support of the medical use of cannabis, a.k.a. marijuana. The bill’s current sponsors are Rep. Kelly Alexander (D) from Mecklenburg county, Rep. Pricey Harrison (D) from Guilford, and Rep. Marcus Brandon, also from Guilford. During the past few years, the Democratic Party of NC has passed a resolution to support the passage of medical cannabis.
House Bill 84 is an improvement on the prior bills filed in NC, and is seen as a divergence from other states’ medical marijuana acts that have been wrought with legal problems. Some of the highlights of the bill include the following:
-A wide array of serious illness qualifications including cancer, ALS (Lou Gehrig’s), fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis, Chrohn’s, rheumatoid arthritis, among others
-Protects patients, caregivers, and physicians – it would be illegal for any state or local agency, government, or employee to divulge information about a patient, and includes a $1,000 fine for such a violation (Class 1 misdemeanor) allows law enforcement officers to call and verify a patient’s card by name and random ID number only (they are not given disease/ailment information)
-Allows patients and caregivers to grow up to 250 sq. ft. of adult female cannabis plants
-Disallows use in any public building or outdoor space open to the public, school grounds, correctional facilities, or on public transportation
-Protects parents from having their children taken away for medical use of cannabis
-Prevents schools, employers, and landlords from not enrolling, employing, leasing, or discriminating against patients simply for being a cardholder or having cannabis metabolites in their system
-Protects businesses by allowing them to decide whether a patient can actively be under the influence of medical cannabis in the workplace
-Allows patients to still be considered for organ transplant despite the medical use of cannabis there is a severance clause, meaning if a portion of the bill is struck down in a court of law after its passage, the rest of the bill still stands as law establishes separate licenses for medical cannabis centers, growers, and manufacturers of cannabis infused products
-Disallows patients from driving while impaired (metabolites in the system alone cannot be used to determine impairment, however)
-Disallows individuals with certain arrest records including class A through E felonies, assault, embezzlement, burglary, and others from obtaining licenses to operate a medical cannabis center, grow, or manufacture infused products
Many of these highlights came about by studying the implementation and law cases in other states, aiming to prevent issues, keep the courts clear of medical cannabis related cases, and protect the rights of patients in need. The bill also dictates that upon passage, there will be 120 days to implement the laws, rather than having to wait years in states such as New Jersey and the District of Columbia.
Robert Dalton, Vice President of the NC chapter of NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws), said, “The introduction of such a strong bill is the culmination of a growing movement to allow patients to choose which medicine to put in their bodies. The Federal Government has failed the people in regards to medical marijuana, and the people of North Carolina have had enough. With the recent absurd ruling against Americans for Safe Access to attempt the federal rescheduling of marijuana from ‘no medicinal value Class I’ to a lower class, and the 58% majority of North Carolinians in support of medical use, it’s time for our state to show compassion and restore freedom to the individual. Hundreds, if not thousands, of studies show the efficacy and safety of medical marijuana, having never once shown to cause a death by overdose. I’m hopeful that this our year to finally pass the NC Medical Cannabis Act.”
This coming Tuesday, February 12th, there will be a Legislative Day at the NC state legislative building in Raleigh to educate lawmakers on House Bill 84. There are expected to be at least a thousand supporters in attendance, with the Facebook event pages showing over 1500 people ‘going.’ The Legislative Day was organized by Perry Parks of North Carolina Cannabis Patient’s Network, with the aid of HB 84 sponsor Kelly Alexander. There will be doctors, patients, other professionals speaking on behalf of the bill. Mr. Parks is a 30 year Army officer veteran, having served in Viet Nam as a helicopter pilot. He and his organization have fought tirelessly for medical cannabis here in North Carolina for years, with support growing continuously.
Perry Parks has been in media interviews and spoken in front of the state legislature on numerous occasions. On hearing the bill was introduced, he said, “In a state with such a high number of veterans and military personnel, North Carolina needs to take care of our injured vets. We’re hopeful that our Republican representatives will continue their support of our troops by allowing the passage of House Bill 84 this session. I urge everyone to contact their representative by phone, email, or in person to ask them to support medical cannabis in North Carolina. I’ve used medical cannabis for many years now to treat my back, no longer needing pills and other prescribed drugs that were further damaging my body. I’m a patient, not a criminal, and I hope our legislators will agree.”
To read the bill in full, follow this link: