Committee poised for blunt talk on medical marijuana bill

Posted March 25, 2015


— If a bill clearing the way for medical marijuana in North Carolina makes it past the House Judiciary I Committee on Wednesday, it will beat a set of odds that are less steep than they were two years ago but still imposing.

House Bill 78 would allow people to obtain prescriptions in order to use marijuana. Users would need a state registration card, and they could buy cannabis only from a state-licensed distributor.

"As long as we're getting the bills heard in committee ... that's an indication that members are willing to listen," said Rep. Becky Carney, D-Mecklenburg, one of the measure's primary sponsors.

Carney said she didn't have any expectation as to whether the measure would pass. However, she said the conversation is different from two years ago, when a similar bill met its demise after a raucous committee meeting. More people making the case for legal marijuana, she said, are those seeking relief from various medical problems.

That lobbying effort has been persistent over the past few weeks, lawmakers report.

"We're getting so many calls, for and against, that it's taking our attention away from other priorities," committee Chairman Leo Daughterly, R-Johnston, said Tuesday.

Wednesday's Judiciary Committee meeting, he said, would give everyone a clear indication of whether the bill was going to survive this legislative session or would be done for another two years.

Daughtry said he plans to give the public up to an hour to address the bill and then the committee 30 minutes to discuss it before voting.

"I don't know what's going to happen," Daughtry said.

Typically, a committee will either vote for or against giving a bill a favorable report. In this case, that would mean the medical marijuana measure would either go on to the House's budget committee for more work or, if it fails, stay put in Judiciary. Two years ago, a similar bill ran into such staunch opposition that lawmakers voted to give the bill a rare "unfavorable report," which killed both it and any similar measures for the entire session.

While Daughtry and other lawmakers say they have been inundated with calls, the tone of those calls has been much different from two years ago.

"Unlike the last time, the people who are calling have been very, very, very respectful," Rep. Bob Steinburg, R-Chowan, said. "I am so impressed with their demeanor."

Steinberg said he would listen to all who speak on Wednesday but likely vote "no" barring any new information being brought up.

He said he doubted the measure would pass out of committee, but like Carney, he said that, given the tenor of the national debate, it may not be long before North Carolina's General Assembly begins to shift.

"I think a lot of this is generational," he said.

He is 67 years old, and many lawmakers are in their 50s, 60s and 70s. Their attitudes, he said, were entrenched during the heyday of the drug counterculture of the 1960s, and voting to legalize drugs is a difficult position for them to take.

As younger lawmakers come along, Steinburg speculated, they may be more open to changing the state's stance on medical marijuana.


Please with your WRAL.com account to comment on this story. You also will need a Facebook account to comment.

Oldest First
View all
  • Joe Smith Mar 27, 2015
    user avatar

    Prohibitionists are mental midgets! Stop the crimes against humanity! Demand full legalization and nothing less!

  • Jessica McDougald Mar 25, 2015
    user avatar

    "For me personally, I look at this issue completely differently than most. For me, this is a simple issue of freedom. If we are truly free, then the government has absolutely no right to tell a grown man or woman what they can or cannot do within the comfort of their own home."

    Well said, Sam! That goes for everything - all drugs, seat belt usage, prostitution, gun permits, same sex marriage, abortion, etc. If you have a problem with it, don't do it! But don't tell someone else they cant. The gov't is not your mom.

  • Peter Panda Mar 25, 2015
    user avatar

    View quoted thread

    don't need too-- some of you come up with some stupid logic to legalize things

  • Teresa Engel Mar 25, 2015
    user avatar

    I just heard that the Judiciary Committee voted down the proposal to legalize medical marijuana. Score one for Big Pharma, and another zero for the people of this very backwards state. SMDH!

  • Beth Pearce Mar 25, 2015
    user avatar

    View quoted thread

    LOL!!!!!! I thought the same thing!

    (Strawberry Letter 23)

  • Michael L. Wallace Jr. Mar 25, 2015
    user avatar

    Ingesting raw unheated marijuana creates no psycho-active effect but is an essential part of the human diet . Each person should have enough to juice 3 - 4 times a day . The Buzzed sensation from heating it is the mental part of the brain slowing as the physical part is building new brain cells .

  • James Hicks Mar 25, 2015
    user avatar

    I feel like I need to elaborate on the 'I don't mind it being illegal' comment. Our MJ laws at the moment are actually fairly lax. I didn't know this until recently, but the decriminalization actually means that most people, even if they are caught with some, will not be arrested.

    I had a friend who got pulled over several years ago and popped for having a quarter bag. He was driving for another friend who had been drinking - but, and here's the MOST important part - instead of acting like an *** towards the officer, he was polite, answered the officers questions, and acted like a civilized individual. Now, not only was he in possession, but the other friend had a loaded revolver sitting on the dashboard. (Not illegal - open carry of a legal weapon) So, after the stop, the officer asked for the friend who had been drinking for his bullets. The friend surrendered the bullets, and the cop wrote the original friend a ticket for the MJ and sent them on their way.

  • James Hicks Mar 25, 2015
    user avatar

    Glad to see independent thought cutting through all the propaganda from the majority (at least here)

    The 'medical' aspect though is a scam, and it's not the 'let's get it legalized' one everyone thinks it's about. That is a part of it, but the truth, as you can see in other posts here already, is the tax aspect. They have us jumping head over heals to pay tax for something we should be allowed to produce on our own without fear of imprisonment. If those who wished to smoke it, were simply allowed to have a small collection of plants (maybe 6 to 10 per adult) they cared for, a lot of problems would be solved. Those who don't want to grow it could buy it from licensed dealers and add in the tax revenue part. (California seems to have a problem with the medical dispensaries being robbed though, so I still favor each person producing their own)

    Now,with that being said,I actually don't mind it being decriminalized either actually. As long as your not acting -censored- you're generally OK

  • David Brower Mar 25, 2015
    user avatar


  • Sam Adams Mar 25, 2015
    user avatar

    For me personally, I look at this issue completely differently than most. For me, this is a simple issue of freedom. If we are truly free, then the government has absolutely no right to tell a grown man or woman what they can or cannot do within the comfort of their own home.

    So for me medical marijuana is irrelevant. If we are truly free then we should be free to grow our own medicine if we see fit without any interference. Polls clearly show that on a national level American citizens favor legalization of Cannabis.

    Obviously, there are industries that have a vested interested to see cannabis remain illegal and unfortunately politicians ultimately answer to them rather than their constituents.

    Many forget that the Declaration of Independence was drafted out of Hemp, so was the flag, so were the sails that pushed our ships on the path to the colonies, so was the fuel used for Henry Ford's Model T, so in a sense you could say cannabis has actually driven American history.