RALEIGH, N.C. (Mar. 3, 2017) – An North Carolina bill would legalize medical marijuana for qualifying patients in the state, effectively nullifying the unconstitutional federal prohibition on the same.
Introduced by Rep. Kelly Alexander (D-Charlotte) and 11 co-sponsors, House Bill 185 (H.185) would promulgate rules and regulations to set up a functioning medical marijuana program in the Tar Heel State. It cites the Tenth Amendment as the basis of the legislation, stating:
"The laws of Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington permit the medical use and cultivation of cannabis. North Carolina joins in this effort for the health and welfare of its citizens…
States are not required to enforce federal law or prosecute people for engaging in activities prohibited by federal law. Therefore, compliance with this Article does not put the State of North Carolina in violation of federal law."
Patients would be able to qualify for medical marijuana if they suffered from a number of ailments listed in H.185.
Medical marijuana patients would be allowed to designate a caregiver under H.185, which would permit another individual the legal authority to grow the plant on behalf of the qualifying patient, as long as they are aged 21-or-older. Dispensaries, called “medical cannabis centers” in H.185, would be permitted to operate as well provided that they comply with the tax and regulatory structure established under the legislation.
Despite the federal prohibition on marijuana, measures such as H.185 remain perfectly constitutional, and the feds can do little if anything to stop them in practice.
The federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA) passed in 1970 prohibits all of this behavior. Of course, the federal government lacks any constitutional authority to ban or regulate marijuana within the borders of a state, despite the opinion of the politically connected lawyers on the Supreme Court. If you doubt this, ask yourself why it took a constitutional amendment to institute federal alcohol prohibition.
Legalization of medical marijuana in North Carolina would remove a layer of laws prohibiting the possession and use of marijuana, but federal prohibition will remain on the books.
FBI statistics show that law enforcement makes approximately 99 of 100 marijuana arrests under state, not federal law. By curtailing state prohibition, North Carolina sweeps away much of the basis for 99 percent of marijuana arrests.
Furthermore, figures indicate it would take 40 percent of the DEA’s yearly annual budget just to investigate and raid all of the dispensaries in Los Angeles – a single city in a single state. That doesn’t include the cost of prosecution either. The lesson? The feds lack the resources to enforce marijuana prohibition without state assistance.
A GROWING MOVEMENT
North Carolina could join a growing number of states simply ignoring federal prohibition, and nullifying it in practice. Colorado, Washington state, Oregon and Alaska have already legalized recreational cannabis with California, Nevada, Maine, and Massachusetts set to join them after ballot initiatives in favor of legalization were passed in those states earlier this month.
With more than two-dozen states allowing cannabis for medical use as well, the feds find themselves in a position where they simply can’t enforce prohibition any more.
“The lesson here is pretty straight forward. When enough people say, ‘No!’ to the federal government, and enough states pass laws backing those people up, there’s not much the feds can do to shove their so-called laws, regulations or mandates down our throats,” Tenth Amendment Center founder and executive director Michael Boldin said.
H.185 has not received a committee assignment at the present time. It must pass in committee before it can be considered by the full House. Stay in touch with our Tenther Blog and our Tracking and Action Center for the latest updates.