The War on Drugs is a war against the people, making criminals out of ordinary and good people. Not only is it destroying our economy, but it is destroying families. Polls nationwide have shown that the attitude towards marijuana has shifted and that the people are ready for an increase in their personal liberty. Urging support for these bills is a step in the right direction for ending this unconstitutional war.
Support HB577 and HB324: Compassionate Laws for Marijuana Reform in North Carolina
On March 31, Rep. Alexander introduced a bill that would give medical marijuana patients protection from arrest and prosecution for using a safe and effective treatment course recommended to them by their physicians. House Bill 577 amends state law to “authorize an individual to use marijuana for medical purposes as directed by a physician.” HB 577 would allow patients both the ability to cultivate their own cannabis at home or to purchase it at state licensed distribution centers. This proposal remains pending before the House Committee on Rules, Calendar, and Operations and has yet to be assigned a hearing.
The use of marijuana as medicine is a public health issue; it should not be part of the war on drugs. According to a national survey of U.S. physicians conducted for the American Society of Addiction Medicine, nearly half of all doctors with opinions support legalizing cannabis as a medicine. Some 80 state and national health care organizations, including the American Nurses Association, American Public Health Association and The New England Journal of Medicine, support immediate, legal patient access to medical cannabis. Recently, the largest association of doctors of internal medicine and the second largest medical association in the country, the American College of Physicians, released a policy paper in support of medical cannabis, stating, "The ACP strongly urges protection from criminal or civil penalties for patients who use medical marijuana as permitted under state laws."
Sixteen states Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, Michigan, Montana, New Mexico, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington and the District of Columbia have enacted laws protecting medical marijuana patients from state prosecution. There is no legitimate reason why North Carolina's patients should not enjoy these same legal protections. I fully believe that North Carolina should join the growing list of states that have compassionate laws on their books protecting patients from arrest for treating their ailments. Passage of this bill would accomplish that goal.
I am asking you to support H 577 and help Rep. Alexander pass medical marijuana through the North Carolina General Assembly.
I also write you to request that you support HB 324, a bill sponsored by Reps. Kelly Alexander and Larry Hall that was recently introduced in the North Carolina House of Representatives. This proposal would reclassify possession of less than an ounce of marijuana from a misdemeanor to an infraction and change the penalty to a fine. Currently, North Carolina law gives the right to counsel to all indigent clients facing a misdemeanor. By making the penalty for possession of less than an ounce an infraction, North Carolina stands to save possibly millions of dollars in judicial costs, not to mention the law enforcement costs saved by not arresting small-time marijuana possessors. Why is our state still wasting scarce law enforcement officers’ time and court time processing marijuana offenders rather than just fining them?
This is a common sense, fiscally responsible proposal that will cut costs without altering the public's attitudes or use of marijuana. Presently, nearly a dozen states - including Connecticut, Maine, and Nebraska - impose similar non-criminal penalties for minor marijuana possession offenses. Passage of these measures has not led to increased marijuana use or altered the public's perceptions regarding the potential harms of drug use. Adults who possess or consume small amounts of marijuana in private should not be subject to criminal prosecution or the lifelong stigma of a criminal record. With the state of the economy, saving money by lowering the penalty for non-violent behavior makes sense.
I implore you to consider that the War on Drugs is a war against the people, making criminals out of ordinary and good people. Not only is it destroying our economy, but it is destroying families. Polls nationwide have shown that the attitude towards marijuana has shifted and that the people are ready for an increase in their personal liberty. With your help, North Carolina could help establish a historical precedent for the nation by assigning these issues a hearing and ultimately voting yes on compassionate laws in regards to marijuana legislation. I thank you for your time, service, and willingness to help reform marijuana legislation in North Carolina and taking an important first step in the right direction. By considering these measures and actively resolving to fight for the people, you are truly representing we the people, and for that we will be extremely grateful.
Once again, I urge your support of HB577 and HB324.
Special Thanks to the sponsors of these very important bills:
Rep. Kelly Alexander
Rep. Larry Hall
Rep. Pricey Harrison
Rep. Paul Luebke
Rep. Patsy Keever
Rep. Glen Bradley
Rep. Susan Fisher
*Information taken from The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) and from The Marijuana Policy Project (MPP)*