Thursday News: Sorry, NC farmers


REPUBLICANS SCREW UP NC MEDICAL MARIJUANA BILL: Pat Oglesby, a former business and law professor at UNC who has worked on medical marijuana issues in other states, told lawmakers Tuesday that they should reconsider the part of the bill related to who can get a license to grow medical marijuana in North Carolina. The current version would require a grower to previously have had “at least five years of experience in cultivation, production, extraction, product development, quality control, and inventory management of medical cannabis in a state-licensed medical or adult use cannabis operation.” Oglesby said this isn’t about something like building a nuclear power plant; it’s about growing a plant, and North Carolinians can do that. But there’s probably almost no one in North Carolina who would technically qualify under those rules, Oglesby said. I wonder if they even asked Steve Troxler about this?

DOWLESS APPARENTLY HAD A STROKE JUST PRIOR TO SENTENCING: Leslie McCrae Dowless was flown by helicopter from Bladen County Hospital to New Hanover Regional Hospital in Wilmington at about 8 a.m. Wednesday "under emergency conditions," according to Cynthia Singletary, who represented Dowless in the hearings that eventually overturned the 2018 9th Congressional District election. His hospitalization was first reported by WBTV reporter Nick Ochsner, who recently released a book about the 9th District saga. Dowless, a long-time political operative in Bladen County, had a stroke, Ochsner reported. Dowless was due at the federal courthouse in Raleigh on Wednesday afternoon for sentencing on fraud charges unearthed after the election scandal, but not specifically related to it. A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of North Carolina said in an email that it appears "the hearing will be postponed for medical reasons today," but did not provide details.

THERE ARE NO OPEN HOSPITAL BEDS IN THE TRIANGLE, THANKS TO ANTI-VAXXERS: Representatives from the Triangle’s three major hospitals sounded an alarm Wednesday about COVID-19's strain on area hospitals and a dangerous shortage of patient beds. Speakers from Duke Health, UNC Health and WakeMed held a virtual news conference at 10 a.m. urging the public to do their part and get vaccinated. According to UNC Health spokesperson Phil Bridges, approximately 463 COVID-positive patients are being treated in 12 UNC hospitals statewide. More than 3,500 COVID patients are hospitalized across the state, the most since Jan. 21. The positive testing rate stands at 13.5 percent as of Wednesday, when there were 6,130 newly-reported cases. At UNC Rex, the ICU is full, and there are more patients than beds, Dr. Linda Butler, the hospital's chief medical officer, said. The hospital is treating 520 patients among 439 beds. All speakers agreed – help from the community is needed to stop this virus. People need to get vaccinated, stay home when they feel ill and wear masks, they said. Patients in need of medical treatment can also help hospitals by considering other options, such as a primary care doctor or urgent care center, before visiting the emergency department.​ Good lord, some people are idiots.

REPUBLICANS AREN'T THE ONLY ONES WHO ARE PRONE TO DEBILITATING STUPIDITY: Two members of Congress are facing condemnation and questions following their surprise visit to Afghanistan this week, which diverted resources from the U.S.'s chaotic withdrawal, enraged military leaders and led House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to declare it not “a good idea.” Rep. Seth Moulton, D-Mass., and Rep. Peter Meijer, R-Mich., flew in on a charter Tuesday and were on the ground at the Kabul airport for several hours before flying out on a military plane. They billed their “secret” visit as an effort to conduct congressional oversight of the Biden administration's handling of a rapidly deteriorating situation after the Taliban's lightning fast takeover of the country. But it stunned State Department and U.S. military personnel. They said the resources needed to protect the congressmen detracted from the evacuation effort and raised the possibility that the lawmakers' flight out could have deprived seats to other Americans or Afghans looking to flee the country before President Joe Biden's Aug. 31 deadline for withdrawal. I'm going to hold my commentary until my blood pressure comes down.

MISSISSIPPI'S LAST ABORTION CLINIC IS HEADED TO THE CONSERVATIVE SUPREME COURT: On one part of the sidewalk, longtime antiabortion demonstrator Coleman Boyd belts out a steady stream of Christian music, with lyrics about Jesus’s love for the unborn. “Your precious baby is going to be murdered in this place,” Boyd, a physician, preaches between songs. Nearby, supporters of the Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the last abortion clinic in Mississippi, turn up their own playlist of “Jagged Little Pill,” by Alanis Morissette, and other female empowerment anthems. The struggle on the sidewalk will soon play out at the Supreme Court, where the Jackson clinic — known as “the Pink House” for its bubble-gum color — is at the center of the most consequential women’s reproductive rights case in decades. Later this year, the court will hear arguments about a Mississippi law that if allowed to take effect would ban nearly all abortions after 15 weeks. If the court’s conservative majority permits the law to stand, it could deal a major blow to abortion rights. Such a ruling could give states greater latitude to limit how and when abortions are performed. And if the court goes further and accedes to Mississippi’s request to overturn Roe v. Wade, the decision giving women a constitutional right to an abortion, some legislatures are poised to ban nearly all abortions. Twelve states, including Mississippi, have passed “trigger” laws with stringent abortion restrictions that could go into effect immediately, or soon after, if Roe were overturned. So far NC is not one of those states. Be vigilant.