N.C. Committee Kills Medical Marijuana Bill Due to ‘Harassment’

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On February 20, the Republican-controlled North Carolina House Rules Committee killed H.B. 84, a bill that would have legalized medical marijuana, stating their desire to “stem the wave of phone calls and emails” from constituents voicing support for the issue. Tweet it:

House Rules Committee Vice Chairman, Rep. Paul Stam (R-Wake) told WRAL.com, “We [killed] it to be done with it, so people could move on for the session,” further stating that lawmakers were being “harassed” with phone calls and emails from constituents who support the legalization and regulation of medical marijuana.

It seems overwhelming public support for an issue is now considered harassment by N.C. lawmakers, permitting them to forgo their duties of representation and kill a bill simply because they no longer wish to listen to their constituents wishes.

A Public Policy Poll administered in January found that out of 603 constituents polled in N.C, 58 percent support the taxing and regulation of medical marijuana. Elon University also released a study on March 6 which found that seventy-six percent of the 891 N.C. voters surveyed believe doctors should be allowed to prescribe medical marijuana for medical conditions such as cancer. Tweet the poll:

“It was a rigged hearing,” stated Rep. Marcus Brandon (D-Guilford), who was a co-sponsor of the bill. “It was not intended to go anywhere and it was not intended to have a process of what you are thinking about.”

After the committee listened to public comments for a mere 20 minutes, in which only one person — Jere Royall, with the North Carolina Family Policy Council — voiced opposition, the bill was given an unfavorable report.

"58% support the taxing and regulation of medical marijuana."
Per House rules, when a bill is given an unfavorable report, “the contents of that bill or the principal provisions of its subject matter shall not be considered in any other measure originating in the Senate or originating thereafter in the House.”

On the topic of harassment, Rep. Kelly Alexander (D-Mecklenburg), the primary sponsor of the bill, believes that unexpected and greater than usual public support in the form of emails and phone calls could have been misinterpreted by top Republican lawmakers on the committee.

“I think some of the people who allege harassment may have also fallen into the mindset of not being inclined to support the measure in the first place,” said Alexander. “If you are not inclined to support something and all of a sudden you see a public poll saying the measure is possible and you also have people who politely want to have meetings with you to discuss their positions and their views — you get it at a volume that you didn’t think was possible – I could see how you could convert that into harassment.”

The N.C. chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), helped to organize a legislative rally on February 12 at the N.C. General Assembly, which drew about 450 supporters in favor of medical marijuana legalization. Tweet at @NCNORML:

A week later, N.C. NORML began a phone and email campaign, encouraging members and supporters to contact their representatives.

“Considering that N.C. NORML has over 7,000 followers on Facebook and a reach of well over 100,000 nationwide, it’s entirely possible that a small percentage of those people were less than polite when contacting representatives,” said N.C. chapter Secretary Jon Kennedy.

Kennedy added:

“I haven’t personally heard of one person who was confrontational or disrespectful when contacting representatives, but if Rep. Stam said there were a few people who were rude, I would say that I’m not surprised. Some people suffering from certain debilitating diseases can’t get by in life without medical marijuana. The pharmaceuticals that they have been prescribed damage their body and put them in a world that disconnects them from reality, which they dislike. They have found that marijuana, especially through vaporizing, helps.”

Respectful or not in their communication, it’s not the job of a United States representative to base their decisions on whether they feel a constituent was polite; it’s their job to fight for what the people they represent want and need.

“In my world you can’t refuse to advance legislation because people aren’t socially polished,” Kennedy said. Tweet quote:

Despite the many studies available which have found marijuana to have medicinal value, including a U.S. government-owned patent explaining the useful neuroprotectant and antioxidant properties of cannabinoids, N.C. representatives refuse to take up the issue.

Even the federal government is still issuing four to nine ounces of marijuana a month to four remaining patients who are apart of the federally-run Compassionate Investigational New Drug Program that started in 1976.

Rep. Brandon feels that in order for medical marijuana to gain traction in N.C., there needs be a study bill introduced to examine its effects:

“You have this ignorance because there has never been a bill in the N.C. General Assembly designed to study the effects of marijuana,” he said.

According to Brandon, an issue carries a lot more weight when it’s based on the recommendation of the study bill:

“I think study committees are useless, but that’s they way they work around here. I’ve learned about these committees and I’ve been against them, but I understand that they are necessary for a bill to have more weight. The chances that you get sponsors from both parties, who come from the study committee, greatly increase.”

“We have a thousand bills that come across our desks, so you can’t research everything that comes through your committee and you can’t be an expert on everything,” he added. “We do rely on expert testimony. All the bills that come across my desk — I would be lying to you if I said that I knew about every single one of them.”

Despite the set backs, H.B. 84 proved slightly more successful than previous marijuana legislation.

Each time a bill is introduced into the House, the Speaker of the House, Rep. Thom Tillis (R-Mecklenburg) determines which committee it goes to.

“I’ve heard that it’s bad if a bill gets sent to rules committee,” said Brandon. “It’s what happens when people don’t want the bill to get done. Rules is like the dead committee.”

The speaker may not have wanted the bill to advance this go around. However, this is the first time that there was a committee hearing where the public was given a chance to speak.

The rules committee voted through a voice vote, which is not recorded. In the history of North Carolina, no medical marijuana bill has progressed far enough to reach either chambers in the Legislature where it would receive a recorded vote.

Rep. Kelly Alexander, the author of H.B. 84, said he plans on attempting to revise and remove the bill from the unfavorable calender by invoking Rule 37 from the House Rules Book, which states:

“A bill may be removed from the unfavorable calender upon motion carried by two-thirds vote. A motion to remove a bill from the unfavorable calender is debatable.”

According to H.B. 84, the taxation and regulation of medical marijuana would generate approximately $250 million per year in revenue for the state within four years of implementation.

 

Editor’s note: N.C. Rep. Paul Stam was contacted for comment. His secretary informed the author that he does not schedule in-person or telephone meetings with his constituents in Wake County.

The Independent Voter Network is dedicated to providing political analysis, unfiltered news, and rational commentary in an effort to elevate the level of our public discourse.


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  1. itshidden The MPP marij policy prject is going to send 9 new states for decriminalzation it a slo go but worth mentioning think as NC as just another place where there is quicksand the more you try the hard it get Gm pharma put a patient on the plant the reason why is all about the dollers and cents NC has very little. I am talking about that free and can be used as medicine but they still dont want to debate about it. What they told to start with 30 years ago stands today. Little lack of understanding from a terminal cancer patient. WE are  Designed to be a war war machine
  2. vaporizer You still have to protect your supplies if you are on the go. Vaporizer is really a machine utilized being an alternate towards smoking for releasing active and simulated ingredients of your respective plant materials or herb. We are selling the new 2012 model with stainless steel heating chamber and hot new price for 2012.
  3. Justin What a joke. I live in North Carolina and its a shit hole nothing good about it. Some marijuana will really make the state a better place.
  4. TruthBeTold9n State that don't wan't to pass medical marijuana laws or decriminalize it.Just want to keep locking people up for petty marijuana possesions.This is how the keep minorities behind the gates.
  5. Dewayne Stewart My thing is why not make it legal? People have benefitted from medical marijuana in other states. You clearly see the positives in it. If you we're being "harassed" to make it legal. Why kill the bill people are going to keep "harassing you" until you make an effort to legalize marijuana. I say let the people vote whether or not to legalize marijuana.
  6. CommonSense They clearly have shown disrespect to the good people of North Carolina. They will be voted out of office, ASAP.
  7. Howard Please explain to me why THC is the sole issue? THC is a fairly harmless even in large doses. It has a toxic level of 1500 lbs consumed in 15 minutes... I personally don't know anybody who could consume that amount. It is simply illogical to be opposed to another person's choice to use cannabis. It doesn't affect you in the least. P.S. You should get out of religion. It's bad for your mentality.
  8. Howard Quote "I’m glad they didn’t pass that smoking bs, if ur hurting that bad, pull the plug don’t tell me that smoking grass makes it all better, that’s like kissing a baby’s wound to make it think it don’t hurt anymore" I am just going to assume that you are ignorant and uneducated Adrian. Your words sound as if they come from a 16 year old child. The truth is cannabis DOES have medical applications. It does not need to be smoked either. It can be vaporized , or consumed orally which alleviate most if not all carcinogenic effects the substance may have. The effects of cannabis are not placebo in nature either. There is an entire endocannabonoid system inside the human body which effectively interats with the cannabonoids in cannabis to target certain symptoms. For anyone who isn't aware of the facts around marijuana and it's users... keep your opinions to yourself. We have enough stupidity coming out of politics without the help of ignorant citizens. I absolutely DARE you to watch this video and then come back with your same rhetoric about cannabis. It is time for the lies and oppression to end. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BH5yzEu3JGQ
  9. Jon Kennedy How do we do field sobriety tests for people on oxycotin, benedryl and other medications that come with warnings about not operating heavy machinery? The field sobriety tests (if conducted by someone qualified to administer and evaluate) will determine a person's alertness, balance and responsiveness. That's what matters in safe driving. A person's level of THC in their bloodstream does not have a direct relation to their cognition and motor skills. As for accidents, i'd like to offer up this study funded by an auto insurance quote provider. It found marijuana smokers are involved in FEWER vehicle accidents. So the case can be made (by the auto insurers) that marijuana smokers should get lower insurance rates. http://www.prweb.com/releases/2012/4/prweb9375729.htm
  10. Jon Kennedy Marijuana really is medicine and has a positive impact on people's health. The medical approach is a good one (in my opinion) in the sense that it gives people in need safe access to a non-toxic plant that helps their condition. I do agree with you though, and think cannabis should be regulated like tomatoes. (Not taxed, not regulated - grow it in your back yard and share with friends). We have a ways to go politically though (in North Carolina). We know that on a long enough timeline, marijuana reform will happen. Unfortunately we just have to wait for the death of some antiquated ideas about the dangers of marijuana. "A scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it." ~Max Planck (Quantum Physicist)
50 comments
itshidden
itshidden

The MPP marij policy prject is going to send 9 new states for decriminalzation it a slo go but worth mentioning think as NC as just another place where there is quicksand the more you try the hard it get Gm pharma put a patient on the plant the reason why is all about the dollers and cents NC has very little. I am talking about that free and can be used as medicine but they still dont want to debate about it. What they told to start with 30 years ago stands today. Little lack of understanding from a terminal cancer patient. WE are  Designed to be a war war machine

vaporizer
vaporizer

You still have to protect your supplies if you are on the go.

Vaporizer is really a machine utilized being an alternate towards smoking

for releasing active and simulated ingredients of your respective plant materials or herb.

We are selling the new 2012 model with stainless steel heating chamber

and hot new price for 2012.

Justin
Justin

What a joke. I live in North Carolina and its a shit hole nothing good about it. Some marijuana will really make the state a better place.

TruthBeTold9n
TruthBeTold9n

State that don't wan't to pass medical marijuana laws or decriminalize it.Just want to keep locking people up for petty marijuana possesions.This is how the keep minorities behind the gates.

Dewayne Stewart
Dewayne Stewart

My thing is why not make it legal? People have benefitted from medical marijuana in other states. You clearly see the positives in it. If you we're being "harassed" to make it legal. Why kill the bill people are going to keep "harassing you" until you make an effort to legalize marijuana. I say let the people vote whether or not to legalize marijuana.

CommonSense
CommonSense

They clearly have shown disrespect to the good people of North Carolina. They will be voted out of office, ASAP.

Timothy Francis via Facebook
Timothy Francis via Facebook

I'm undecided about the legalization of marijuana. There are pros and cons regarding it that make the decision hard. How do you do field sobriety tests? Who decides on weight, body mass, and brain activity on the limitations and tolerances? When an accident occurs, and both are under the influence of marijuana, what is the outcome legally and insurance wise? What is the person has a prescription? I think legalization needs to be researched on medical, driving, machinery operating, decision making and child care/raising/influence on them.

Brandon Miller
Brandon Miller

Help us everyone. Im in Charlotte NC and it was overwhelming support all across the state. the local news carried stories of how favorable the bill was and some rednecks let a group called the Christian Action League of NC dictate what we can and can not use for medicine but its ok to have heroin iin a pill and call it pain relief

Burnt Press
Burnt Press

Who has done studies on people smoking MJ and their children having autism?

Louie Goitz via Facebook
Louie Goitz via Facebook

Let's stop the medical pretense and accept the fact it is a far safer intoxicant than alcohol and is already socially accepted.

Stephen Bone via Facebook
Stephen Bone via Facebook

Adrian C. Emerson, you are a malicious idiot. You are welcome to your opinion, but when it is to ignorantly wish people pain or death, there is no reason for anyone to tolerate you in polite company—or to even sell you food.

Daphine Wilson via Facebook
Daphine Wilson via Facebook

That excuse is as good as another to do what THEY want and not the consitiuents whp vote for rhem and pay their salaries...

Carmen Castaldo via Facebook
Carmen Castaldo via Facebook

When the people speak up that they want something, then that's what should happen. Our governmental system is suppose to represent what the people want, NOT what the elected officials think we want.

Matthew Cunningham
Matthew Cunningham

This is malfeasance of office they should be charged and remove.

Gil Sery via Facebook
Gil Sery via Facebook

So let me see if I have this straight: Too many phone calls from lobbyists = good; too many phone calls from your constituents, you know, the people who put you in office in the first place, = bad. OK, I see the problem here.

Adrian C. Emerson via Facebook
Adrian C. Emerson via Facebook

I'm glad they didn't pass that smoking bs, if ur hurting that bad, pull the plug don't tell me that smoking grass makes it all better, that's like kissing a baby's wound to make it think it don't hurt anymore

Steve Everheart via Facebook
Steve Everheart via Facebook

There is nothing that stops people from forming a political party, or a coalition from within a party. Ignorance of the rules will delay political action, but it cannot stop what a motivated majority want.

Laurence Bernard via Facebook
Laurence Bernard via Facebook

I don't smoke but the people ought to take the matter into their own hands. First, remove these clowns from office, then get a state wide vote to legalize recreational use. It's called democracy and majority rule, it's called frredom, and it's worth fighting for

Shaun Buck via Facebook
Shaun Buck via Facebook

OK, now substitute the word GUN for marijuana! You know, the only thing mentioned in the US Constitution that flat out states that the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed!!

Davis Jackson via Facebook
Davis Jackson via Facebook

I look at it as a personal choice. One should have the individual liberty to decide whether to smoke marijuana or not, as long as it is in the privacy of his/her home and not affecting anyone else.

The current administration suppresses individual liberty across the board.

Kim Connor Rudnick via Facebook
Kim Connor Rudnick via Facebook

Dumb decision!!!! Do they know what it's like to be in pain and/ or not have an appetite do to treatmments for various illnesses? Obviously NOT!!!! What a bunch of selfish and unsympathetic individuals :(

Neal Weaver via Facebook
Neal Weaver via Facebook

I think you get more flies with honey than vinegar. The folks lobbying for it should do so in a more.... diplomatic fashion IMO, if they want it to happen.

Robyn Davis via Facebook
Robyn Davis via Facebook

Most of the reps are influenced by the money they receive from big Pharma. This is just an excuse.

Lucas Eaves
Lucas Eaves

I did not know that the federal government ran a program that tested the effects of medical marijuana. I would like to know if the results of such program are publicly available. I will look into it.

Michael Higham
Michael Higham

I feel that the more 'radical' or 'disrespectful' side of activism ruins the nature of a movement. It stands out and is perceived as the face of the movement, although a majority of activists are reasonable and smart. It only takes a select few to make an organization look bad.

Alex Gauthier
Alex Gauthier

stating their desire to “stem the wave of phone calls and emails” from constituents voicing support for the issue - Seems like a strange reason to kill a bill, to silence their constituents?

Michael Murphree
Michael Murphree

SOUNDS LIKE North Carolina is run by a bunch of Hugo Chavez type Officials.People better wake up our Government is turning into a dictatorship slowly "VOTE THEM OUT"

Jon Kennedy
Jon Kennedy

How do we do field sobriety tests for people on oxycotin, benedryl and other medications that come with warnings about not operating heavy machinery? The field sobriety tests (if conducted by someone qualified to administer and evaluate) will determine a person's alertness, balance and responsiveness. That's what matters in safe driving. A person's level of THC in their bloodstream does not have a direct relation to their cognition and motor skills.

As for accidents, i'd like to offer up this study funded by an auto insurance quote provider. It found marijuana smokers are involved in FEWER vehicle accidents. So the case can be made (by the auto insurers) that marijuana smokers should get lower insurance rates.

http://www.prweb.com/releases/2012/4/prweb9375729.htm

Jon Kennedy
Jon Kennedy

Marijuana really is medicine and has a positive impact on people's health. The medical approach is a good one (in my opinion) in the sense that it gives people in need safe access to a non-toxic plant that helps their condition.

I do agree with you though, and think cannabis should be regulated like tomatoes. (Not taxed, not regulated - grow it in your back yard and share with friends).

We have a ways to go politically though (in North Carolina). We know that on a long enough timeline, marijuana reform will happen. Unfortunately we just have to wait for the death of some antiquated ideas about the dangers of marijuana.

"A scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it." ~Max Planck (Quantum Physicist)

Howard
Howard

Please explain to me why THC is the sole issue? THC is a fairly harmless even in large doses. It has a toxic level of 1500 lbs consumed in 15 minutes... I personally don't know anybody who could consume that amount. It is simply illogical to be opposed to another person's choice to use cannabis. It doesn't affect you in the least. P.S. You should get out of religion. It's bad for your mentality.

Jon Kennedy
Jon Kennedy

Agreed. Because THC creates a mild euphoria people tend to be scared of it. If it feels good, it must be wrong.

"Marijuana: Gateway to Health" makes the case that humans should deliberately ingest marijuana as a preventative measure. There is no increased risk of cancer or disease, but because of people's "euphoria paranoia" the plant remains demonized.

The first federally funded study of the psychological effects of marijuana (1970, Dr. Charles Tart, "On Being Stoned") concluded that there is no psychological addition to marijuana. Instead it simply found that activities that are enjoyable tend to be repeated.

Howard
Howard

Quote "I’m glad they didn’t pass that smoking bs, if ur hurting that bad, pull the plug don’t tell me that smoking grass makes it all better, that’s like kissing a baby’s wound to make it think it don’t hurt anymore"

I am just going to assume that you are ignorant and uneducated Adrian. Your words sound as if they come from a 16 year old child. The truth is cannabis DOES have medical applications. It does not need to be smoked either. It can be vaporized , or consumed orally which alleviate most if not all carcinogenic effects the substance may have. The effects of cannabis are not placebo in nature either. There is an entire endocannabonoid system inside the human body which effectively interats with the cannabonoids in cannabis to target certain symptoms. For anyone who isn't aware of the facts around marijuana and it's users... keep your opinions to yourself. We have enough stupidity coming out of politics without the help of ignorant citizens.

I absolutely DARE you to watch this video and then come back with your same rhetoric about cannabis. It is time for the lies and oppression to end.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BH5yzEu3JGQ

Jon Kennedy
Jon Kennedy

Adrian - Where are you getting your opinion about the effectiveness of cannabis? First hand experience? Are you vetting the information you're believing about marijuana? What are your sources?

In the mean time, here's a source you might want to pay attention to... The National Cancer Institute acknowledges that marijuana has cancer cell killing properties.

http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/cam/cannabis/patient/Page2#Section_13

Brandon Miller
Brandon Miller

if you google Irv Rosenfeld you will find a lot of info. he is one of the four surviving patients ini the program. he is a medical marijuana activist. by the way im in charlotte nc where this crap is taking place. we need the country to see how they are doing us