marijuana Tag - ACLU of North Carolina http://thatwww.acluofnc.org/blog/Latest.html Mon, 22 May 2017 13:19:38 -0400 en-gb Support for Privacy Rights and Drug Policy Reform Rising in N.C. Legislature, ACLU-NC Report Card Suggests http://thatwww.acluofnc.org/blog/support-for-privacy-rights-and-drug-policy-reform-rising-in-n-c-legislature-aclu-nc-report-card-suggests.html http://thatwww.acluofnc.org/blog/support-for-privacy-rights-and-drug-policy-reform-rising-in-n-c-legislature-aclu-nc-report-card-suggests.html

RALEIGH – Support for protecting citizens from unwarranted government surveillance and moving toward more compassionate medical marijuana laws may be rising in the North Carolina General Assembly, according to an annual legislative report card released today by the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina (ACLU-NC). The report card shows how members of the North Carolina House and Senate voted on legislation introduced during the 2014 session concerning five key civil liberties issues: privacy rights, protections for government whistleblowers, religious liberty, racial and juvenile justice, and compassionate drug policy.

Of particular note, 18 Senate Republicans voted against H.B. 348, which would have dramatically expanded the use of automatic license plate readers (ALPRs) on state-owned roads and highways without including crucial safeguards to protect people’s privacy from unwarranted government surveillance. The ACLU-NC has been working with lawmakers from both parties to pass substantive privacy protections concerning law enforcement’s use of ALPRs and other surveillance technology that is currently unregulated in North Carolina. 

“North Carolinians who support civil liberties should be cautiously optimistic about the growing numbers of lawmakers who support protecting people’s privacy from unwarranted government surveillance,” said ACLU-NC Policy Director Sarah Preston. “The near unanimous support for providing patients suffering from epileptic seizures with safe access to a marijuana-based oil is also very encouraging, and we continue to urge lawmakers to extend their compassion to other North Carolinians who are suffering and could benefit from a comprehensive medical marijuana law. However, support for many other key civil liberties, particularly religious liberty for students of minority beliefs, was sorely lacking in both political parties this session.”

Only eight members of the North Carolina House had voting records that were 100% in line with the ACLU-NC’s positions in 2014, down from 15 House members last year. The eight House members whose voting records were 100% in line with the ACLU-NC this year were Reps. Carla Cunningham (D-Mecklenburg), Rosa Gill (D-Wake), Duane Hall (D-Wake), Larry Hall (D-Durham), Pricey Harrison (D-Guilford), Verla Insko (D-Orange), Paul Luebke (D-Durham), and Graig Meyer (D-Durham, Orange).

In 2013, 57 House members voted with the ACLU-NC 0% of the time. In 2014, that number shrank to only four: Reps. Carl Ford (R-Cabarrus, Rowan), Dana Bumgardner (R-Gaston), George Cleveland (R-Onslow), and House Speaker Thom Tillis (R-Mecklenburg), who traditionally does not vote on most legislation because of his role as speaker.

Read the report card here.

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mmeno [AT] acluofnc [DOT] org (Mike Meno) Legislative News Tue, 19 Aug 2014 10:51:46 -0400
N.C. Governor to Sign Bill Allowing Marijuana-Based Treatment for Epilepsy http://thatwww.acluofnc.org/blog/n-c-governor-to-sign-bill-allowing-marijuana-based-treatment-for-epilepsy.html http://thatwww.acluofnc.org/blog/n-c-governor-to-sign-bill-allowing-marijuana-based-treatment-for-epilepsy.html

RALEIGH – North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory today said he will sign legislation that will allow neurologists to recommend a marijuana-extract oil to patients suffering from intractable seizures and epilepsy. House Bill 1220, which would allow such patients to use an oil derived from a strain of marijuana that is high in the cannabinoid CBD (cannabidiol) but low in the psychoactive cannabinoid THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), was overwhelmingly approved by both chambers of the General Assembly. No other conditions would be covered by the law.

“It’s very encouraging to see North Carolina take this first step toward more compassionate medical marijuana laws, but this bill overlooks countless North Carolinians suffering from cancer, HIV/AIDs, multiple sclerosis and other serious conditions who could benefit from safe and legal access to medical marijuana,” said Sarah Preston, ACLU-NC Policy Director. “The General Assembly and Governor McCrory should be applauded for demonstrating compassion for sufferers of epilepsy, but under current state law, other patients who use marijuana to relieve their symptoms are still wrongly treated as criminals. We urge lawmakers to extend their compassion to other patients who could benefit from safe and legal access to marijuana by either approving or putting on the ballot a proposal for a well-regulated and more inclusive medical marijuana system in North Carolina.”

Another N.C. bill, HB 1161, sponsored by Rep. Kelly Alexander, would place a constitutional amendment on November’s ballot that would allow licensed doctors to recommend marijuana for patients suffering from cancer, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, Alzheimer’s, multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, ALS, and other debilitating conditions, and would create a regulated system so patients could access their medicine safely.

A poll earlier this year shows that 63 percent of North Carolinians would approve of such a medical marijuana program.

Twenty-two states and the District of Columbia have approved similar laws that would allow doctors to recommend marijuana to patients with certain conditions. Medical organizations that support doctor-supervised access to medical marijuana include the American Academy of HIV Medicine, the American Nurses Association, the American Public Health Association, the Lymphoma Foundation of America, the National Association for Public Health Policy, and the Epilepsy Foundation.

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mmeno [AT] acluofnc [DOT] org (Mike Meno) Legislative News Thu, 26 Jun 2014 18:53:49 -0400
NC House Overwhelmingly Approves Marijuana Extract for Epilepsy, but Ignores Countless Others Who Could Benefit from Compassionate Laws http://thatwww.acluofnc.org/blog/nc-house-overwhelmingly-approves-marijuana-extract-for-epilepsy-but-ignores-countless-others-who-could-benefit-from-compassionate-laws.html http://thatwww.acluofnc.org/blog/nc-house-overwhelmingly-approves-marijuana-extract-for-epilepsy-but-ignores-countless-others-who-could-benefit-from-compassionate-laws.html

By Mike Meno, ACLU-NC Communications Director

Yesterday, the North Carolina House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved a bill that would allow neurologists to recommend an oil derived from marijuana compounds to certain patients suffering from epileptic conditions. The legislation was inspired in part by 7-year-old Charlotte Figi, who made national news on CNN for a chronic, debilitating condition that could be relieved only through the marijuana-based treatment. Charlotte suffered up to 50 painful seizures a day before her parents discovered that an oil derived from a strain of marijuana that was high in the cannabinoid CBD (cannabidiol) but low in the psychoactive cannabinoid THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) virtually ended her seizures entirely and allowed her to live a happy and healthy life.

“She had gone from not being able to hold her head up to being able to walk and talk and use a computer in just months,” North Carolina Rep. Pat McElraft explained during emotional testimony on the House floor yesterday before her colleagues voted 111-2 to approve the treatment that may very well have saved Charlotte’s life. 

Indeed, House Bill 1220 could bring much-needed compassionate relief to many North Carolinian suffering from epileptic conditions and for whom other treatments have failed.

But what about the countless other North Carolinians who suffer from glaucoma, multiple sclerosis, or fibromyalgia? Or those struggling to deal with the nausea and appetite loss of chemotherapy and AIDS treatment, or the horrible trauma of post-traumatic stress disorder? A large and ever-growing body of scientific research has confirmed that marijuana can be a safe and effective treatment for these conditions and more, but the legislation approved by the North Carolina House yesterday ignores the vast majority of those who could benefit from safe and legal access to marijuana. While many have lauded HB 1220 for allowing only low-THC marijuana, studies have shown that THC in particular can alleviate many debilitating conditions, such as the neuropathic pain and muscle spasticity that plagues sufferers of multiple sclerosis. In fact, synthetic THC is already legally sold and manufactured in the United States as the pill Marinol, but it is notoriously ineffective among many patients who say they react better to full-plant marijuana and are better able to control their dosage with other forms of delivery, such as vaporization.  

Another North Carolina bill, HB 1161, sponsored by Rep. Kelly Alexander, would place a constitutional amendment on November’s ballot that would allow licensed doctors to recommend marijuana for patients suffering from cancer, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, Alzheimer’s, multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, ALS, and other debilitating conditions, and would create a regulated system so patients could access their medicine safely and without criminal penalties.

A poll from earlier this year shows that 63 percent of North Carolinians would approve of such a medical marijuana program.

Twenty-two other states and the District of Columbia have approved similar compassionate laws that would allow doctors to recommend marijuana to patients suffering from certain conditions that could be eased by marijuana compounds beyond just CBD. The General Assembly should extend to those patients the same compassion House members showed to those suffering intractable epilepsy, listen to the will of the people, and either approve comprehensive medical marijuana legislation or place it on the ballot for the voters to decide without delay.

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mmeno [AT] acluofnc [DOT] org (Mike Meno) Legislative News Fri, 20 Jun 2014 16:13:12 -0400
New ACLU Report Shows Marijuana Arrests in N.C. Are Costly & Racially Biased http://thatwww.acluofnc.org/blog/new-aclu-report-shows-marijuana-arrests-in-n-c-are-costly-racially-biased.html http://thatwww.acluofnc.org/blog/new-aclu-report-shows-marijuana-arrests-in-n-c-are-costly-racially-biased.html

RALEIGH – According to a new report by the American Civil Liberties Union, North Carolina spent nearly $55 million enforcing marijuana possession laws in 2010, while statewide 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. Fifty percent of the people arrested for marijuana possession in North Carolina were African American, even though statewide African Americans comprise only 22 percent of the population – a 28 point difference.

“The war on marijuana has disproportionately been a war on people of color,” said Ezekiel Edwards, Director of the Criminal Law Reform Project at the ACLU and one of the primary authors of the report. “State and local governments have aggressively enforced marijuana laws selectively against black people and communities, needlessly ensnaring hundreds of thousands of people in the criminal justice system at tremendous human and financial cost. The aggressive policing of marijuana is time-consuming, costly, racially biased, and doesn’t work.”

In North Carolina, the counties with the largest racial disparities between marijuana arrests for African Americans and whites were Hoke (9.6 times), Stanly (6.7 times), Surry (6.7 times), Nash (6.7 times), and Wayne (6.5 times). Counties with the highest populations showed large disparities as well, including Mecklenburg (4.6 times), Forsyth (4.6 times), Cumberland (3.4 times), Guilford (3.2 times), and Wake (1.9 times). Hoke County had the fourth highest increase in racial disparities of marijuana arrests in the nation between 2001 and 2010 (906.4 percent), while McDowell County had the 11th highest (464.6%). 

“As more states across the country consider new approaches to marijuana policy, it’s time for North Carolinians to start having our own conversation about how to best change failed marijuana laws,” said Mike Meno, ACLU-NC Communications Director. “In North Carolina and across the nation, the aggressive enforcement of marijuana laws has wasted millions of tax dollars, disproportionately targeted people of color, damaged community relations with police, and harmed the lives of countless individuals arrested for possessing even tiny amounts of marijuana, all while having virtually no impact on marijuana’s use or availability.”

Last year, voters in Colorado and Washington became the first in the nation to approve laws that would tax and regulate the sale and use of marijuana for adults. The ACLU is calling for the states to legalize marijuana by licensing and regulating marijuana production, distribution, and possession for persons 21 or older, taxing marijuana sales, and removing state law criminal and civil penalties for such activities, which it says would eliminate the unfair racially- and community-targeted selective enforcement of marijuana laws. In addition, at a time when states are facing budget shortfalls, taxing and regulating would allow them to save millions of dollars currently spent on enforcement while raising millions more in revenue, money that can be invested in public schools and community and public health programs, including drug treatment.

In the report, the organization also urges lawmakers and law enforcement to reform policing practices, including ending racial profiling as well as unconstitutional stops, frisks, and searches, and also to reform state and federal funding streams that incentivize police to make low-level drug arrests.     

Read the report online at http://www.aclu.org/marijuana

TAKE ACTION HERE.

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mmeno [AT] acluofnc [DOT] org (Mike Meno) Racial Justice Tue, 04 Jun 2013 09:36:45 -0400