Why North Carolina must demand an end to hemp prohibition

Cannabis sativa; two words that never fail to draw strong opinions from those who know their meaning.

For the benefit of the three people left in the world who do not know, Cannabis sativa is hemp, also known as marijuana. Some people prefer to make a distinction between the two crops, noting that industrial hemp contains a very low level of THC, the intoxicating agent found in varieties more commonly used for medicinal and recreational purposes.

My opinion differs somewhat in that based on first hand experience, cannabis is neither addictive nor as dangerous as either tobacco or alcohol, making a distinction between hemp and marijuana is a useless exercise in hair splitting that only lends credence to the erroneous views of the prohibitionists.

Our national experiment with reefer madness has been in the headlines quite often in the past few years, with many states voting to legalize cannabis for medicinal purposes and others considering initiatives to decriminalize or even legalize possession of the plant for any purpose. All of this is, of course, is being done without the blessing of our almighty federal government, which has no constitutional right to interfere in the matter to begin with, but that's a debate for another post.

Today I want to discuss why I believe the people of North Carolina should join the growing chorus of citizens considering legalization of cannabis sativa. No single action our state government could take would do as much to stimulate our state economy as the ending of hemp prohibition.

Since the founding of the English colonies in America, in the early 16th century, agriculture and textiles have been vitally important industries in this region. Tobacco, cotton, and many other crops have historically played a significant role in the economic development of our state.

By 1900, the American textile industry was well on its way to moving to the Carolinas from New England. North Carolina became the center of the textile business by the 1920s and continued outstanding success throughout the 20th Century. But free trade regulations and fierce price competition from global developing countries triggered a steady relocation of the textile industry from the Carolinas to overseas production as the 21st Century began.

For thousands of years, hemp was the most versatile industrial crop on the planet. Our paper was made from its pulp, our clothing, linens, and cordage was woven from its fibrous stalk. Industrial lubricants and lamp oil was pressed from its seed, leaving behind an excellent cake that could be used for livestock feed, and in many cultures, the seed was a staple food source for human populations. With the technologies at our disposal today, the industrial potential of this miraculous plant are greater than ever before

The flowering tops of the cannabis plant have been used for centuries to treat a wide variety of ailments including glaucoma, emphysema, cancers, and many others. In the 19th century, cannabis was one of our three most important medicines, after alcohol and opium, both of which are known to powerfully addictive and the cause of many deaths by overdose. Cannabis, in contrast, is neither addictive nor deadly.

The history of cannabis prohibition is well documented; based on racist lies and the greed of a handful of industrialists whose heavily polluting enterprises have long outlived their usefulness to our civilization. Not only has our environment been raped and pillaged by the greed of these powerful few, but hundreds of thousands of families have been destroyed in the enforcement of these misguided draconian laws, turning our once free nation into a horrific police state. It's time for these atrocities, motivated and maintained for the benefit of a tiny minority, to end.

Legalization of cannabis in North Carolina would provide the economic boost our state desperately needs, resulting in thousands of new sustainable jobs, producing valuable raw materials and finished products for export, and flooding our state treasury with much needed revenue to support our schools and rebuild our aging infrastructure. So what must we do to make this happen? We must demand that our legislators change the laws that currently protect the commercial interests most benefitting from prohibition laws, and demand that they act for the greater good of our state and its people.

Hemp legalization in North Carolina would catapult our state to the forefront of an economic boom like we haven't seen in sixty years. This election year, there is one question we should ask of every candidate for office in this state, from county commissioner to senator and every office in between: Where do you stand on the issue of cannabis legalization?

There is only one correct answer; to end the insanity that is hemp prohibition.


The war on drugs

is the most ineffective and destructive policy in the history of human society. But even if today's prohibitionists can't get past their puritanical instincts, you'd think they'd see the economic benefits and jump on this bandwagon.

Even more remarkable, the so-called libertarians who have been co-opted by Art Pope are squarely part of the problem. These arrogant assholes have been able to push any legislation they want through the General Assembly, and if they wanted to end hemp prohibition in North Carolina they could do it in a heartbeat.


Which is the main reason why I no longer claim any kinship with the libertarian movement. The facts are in plain sight, yet they (politicians and puritans) refuse to even look.


"...the question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be."

Martin Luther King, Jr., Letter from Birmingham Jail

No excuse

Just because a plant cannot be turned into an exclusive profit center for a big pharmaceutical company, or represents a competitor in the market for petrochemical products is no reason to tolerate the disenfranchisement of thousands of otherwise peaceful, law-abiding citizens.


"...the question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be."

Martin Luther King, Jr., Letter from Birmingham Jail

There has to be a way for Americans

to take back their right to grow and use plants that are so useful. I have long thought that a way to force the issue of hemp is to distribute seeds to as many people who would be willing to plant them on their property in a display of civil disobedience. They can't arrest everybody.

I've thought about that too

... unfortunately, getting arrested for that isn't like getting nabbed for occupying city hall or the GA. We wouldn't get just a slap on the wrist for that.

It's my contention that the entire thing is unconstitutional for several reasons. First, look what they had to do in order to prohibit alcohol - a previously legal substance. They had to amend the Constitution, and then they had to amend it again to undo the damage they had done.

Then there's the Tenth Amendment:

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

It would seem to me that given the need to amend the Constitution to prohibit alcohol, prohibition of otherwise legal substances/products was a power reserved to the people, or at the very least, to the states.

Of course we all know the SCOTUS has been wiping its collective bunghole with the Constitution since before I was born, but it doesn't change how reality looks from here.

Any lawyerly folks out there want to enlighten this layman on the subject? I'd seriously like to understand why I'm wrong (if I am).


"...the question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be."

Martin Luther King, Jr., Letter from Birmingham Jail

While I don't have a problem

While I don't have a problem with decriminalizing possession of small quantities of reefer, or allowing it's use for REAL medical need, I can't see going any further than that. If you really think extensive smoking of weed has no negative affects on people you are kidding yourself. Driving a car when high, while the high person thinks they are doing great, is a dangerous situation. Judgement when high is compromised as well. Working with someone that is stoned isn't the best of situations either. Kids getting high is dangerous to their cognitive development. There are a ton of reasons we don't need to basically give the green light to pot smoking. Now if you are an adult, grow your own, don't sell it to others, wait hours after you hit the bong to hit the highway or operate heavy equipment and don't make any major decisions that affect others while high then I've go no problem. :>)

I'm a moderate Democrat.

In other words

treat other drugs like we treat the drug called alcohol.

There are enlightened countries in the world where the legalization of drugs has eliminated billions of dollars associated with criminal pursuits. At the same time, there is no evidence that our puritanical model works better than theirs in terms of public health, rates of drug use, rates of abuse, and collateral damage from crime. In fact, our model is far worse on all those dimensions. We have created unspeakable corruption in Mexico, not to mention neverending deaths and imprisonment.

There's a better way, and we're not moving in that direction in the slightest.


Although this post did not address the greater problem of drug prohibition in general, our government's heavy handed "tough on crime" approach has only made the problem worse from almost any angle one looks at it. Prohibition with steep penalties like we impose does nothing to treat the real issues that individuals who make those choices have: poor self-esteem, hopelessness, lack of education, not to mention the medical problems that drug abuse can create.

Black markets so valuable people are willing to kill and die for a tiny piece of the action are the direct result of prohibition. We learned this first hand almost a century ago, but like every other history lesson, we flunked the final exam and learned nothing.


"...the question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be."

Martin Luther King, Jr., Letter from Birmingham Jail

I can't disagree with any of those limits

No one advocates driving or working while high, or kids smoking pot (or tobacco, or drinking) but anyone who doesn't see the enormous potential of this plant, both as a medicine and industrial uses, either hasn't done their homework or has a vested interest in keeping up the status quo.

I smoked pot all day every day (as much as I could) for more years than I care to admit, and I'll be the first to agree that driving, heavy machinery, important decisions, critical thinking, etc., should never be done while under the influence of ANY intoxicant. If I still smoked regularly I would not be where I am today; self employed and as stable as any small business can be in today's economy.

The drugs are not the problem, our treatment of them is, and we've allowed far too many lives to be ruined and industries destroyed in the process.


"...the question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be."

Martin Luther King, Jr., Letter from Birmingham Jail

And I can agree with this.

And I can agree with this. The key would be to take away the economic incentive to import or grow to sell. Personal use of the plants an adult grows in small quantities could solve this issue. Growth of industrial quality (low THC) hemp wouldn't be a problem as long as it was well regulated. Possession of high THC hemp in large quantities should be illegal and have severe penalties. Anyone that gives or sells a minor pot should be charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor, and/or child abuse. We should as a society invest in prevention of use and treatment of those that use. When I was young the majority of teenagers and adults smoked tobacco. Today most people do not smoke. When I was young drinking and driving was treated like it was nothing, today it is treated like a serious crime and more people avoid doing it. If we could get society to think of smoking pot like it does smoking tobacco and driving high like they do driving drunk then we might be getting somewhere. The key to me is finding a way to lessen use while at the same time take the criminality of use out of equation.

I'm a moderate Democrat.

The only qualm I have with that...

The only qualm I have with that is the part about large quantities. If a person smokes every day (or nearly, and some would) and chose to grow their own, they would likely need several ounces or even a pound to supply themselves from one harvest to the next. So then we get into the issue of how much is a "large quantity". The issue of quantity is a sticky swamp due to the nature of the beast. Some tobacco users only a few cigarettes a day, other several packs, and then there's the whole wet/dry problem to consider - but we have to get there first, so I'm jumping the gun. Sorry.

When I was growing up, half the people my age that I knew smoked pot, at least a often as they drank alcohol. I'm not saying that was a good thing - we were all too young for both - but it never ceased to amaze me how those caught with pot ended up losing scholarships, being kicked out of universities, and often carrying criminal records the rest of their lives, but the few I knew who wrapped cars around trees while drinking heavily, and managed to live through it, got what amounted to a slap on the wrist in comparison.

I think we both agree that how our culture handles the issues surrounding intoxication and intoxicants today is severely flawed, though we see the possible solutions from differing perspectives. If only we could get our leaders to have a similarly rational conversation about it, perhaps we can correct a few of the mistakes of the past.


"...the question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be."

Martin Luther King, Jr., Letter from Birmingham Jail