Marijuana

Election Day month rolls on with a recount in the North Carolina Chief Justice Supreme Court contest. A crowded field of candidates is forming for a vacant U.S. Senate seat. In our latest review of North Carolina politics, Aisha Dew and Becki Gray discuss those races, the likelihood Republicans will decriminalize marijuana, and what they're appreciative for this November.


Cannabis containers and advocacy materials reading 'No one should be in jail for weed.'
We Go High NC

Hemp — including smokable hemp — is legal in North Carolina. But that is only the case if the hemp does not contain more than trace amounts of THC, the main psychoactive compound in marijuana. Hemp and marijuana can be similar in appearance. Both contain some level of THC, though hemp’s concentration is much lower.

Picture of marijuana plant
Colleen Danger, via flickr, Creative Commons

A task force that Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper created to address and eliminate racial disparities in North Carolina's criminal justice and court systems recommended on Wednesday that legislators decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana.

In states across the country, voters sent a clear message they wanted restrictions on recreational drug use eased. On Tuesday, residents of Arizona, Montana, New Jersey and South Dakota voted to join the ranks of 11 other states that have done so.

In 2012, Colorado and Washington made the leap to legalize marijuana for recreational use. Colorado has collected $1.23 billion in marijuana taxes and fees since 2014, including more than $302 million last year alone. Washington eclipsed Colorado that same year, collecting $395.5 million.

According to a new study from the East Carolina University Center for Survey Research, 62% of adults in the U.S. are in favor of recreational marijuana use.

Wikimedia Commons

Late last month more than 50 people in Brooklyn were hospitalized after what law enforcement believes was exposure to synthetic marijuana. The issue hit closer to home this month after a story broke that a Durham County resident experienced severe bleeding presumably from the same thing.

Marijuana is slowly being legalized, with legitimate, profitable businesses popping up in several U.S. states. But in this week's Criminal Podcast, Phoebe Judge tells the story of Meridy Volz, who pioneered a booming pot brownie business in 1970s San Francisco.

Is Medical Marijuana Safe?

Feb 19, 2016
Dank Depot / Flickr Creative Commons

RTI International scientists say better labeling and governmental regulations are needed for medical marijuana.

Each state creates its own regulations, and products can vary a lot. The researchers say many medications are poorly labeled with misleading information about chemical contents. 

A man in handcuffs.
Lionel Allorge / Wikipedia

Durham is expanding a program that allows young first-time offenders to remove a misdemeanor conviction from their record.

Previously available to 16 and 17 year olds, those 21 and under can complete the misdemeanor diversion program beginning in October. Instead of facing jail time or a fine, participants go to court, attend workshops and do community service work.

Durham Chief District Court Judge Marcia Morey says during a typical misdemeanor court appearance, an offender is able to have just a few seconds before a judge, plead guilty, and pay a fine.

Photo: marijuana plants
Flickr user Coleen Whitfiled

A North Carolina legislative committee turned down on  a proposal to legalize marijuana for medical purposes Wednesday afternoon, marking the most progress a legalization bill has made in the state.

Twenty people addressed the House Judiciary Committee over an emotional hour-long meeting in which relatives of injured military veterans said marijuana can be used to treat chronic pain, while speakers from Christian organizations refuted its medical benefits. For advocates, the debate itself should be considered a victory, said bill cosponsor Rep. Becky Carney (D-Mecklenburg).

Duke Health's Raleigh Hospital
Duke Medicine

  State lawmakers have approved a bill that would allow the use of a marijuana oil to help treat childhood seizures.

Researchers say the hemp oil extract, known as cannabidiol (CBD), is not psychoactive and would be used to treat only debilitating seizure disorders.

Several lawmakers, like Gladys Robinson (D-Guilford), showed their support for the bill by relating their experiences of having family members with epilepsy.

Picture of marijuana plant
Colleen Danger, via flickr, Creative Commons

A state lawmaker says she plans to introduce a bill to legalize a marijuana oil that could help treat childhood seizures.

Rep. Pat McElraft (R-Carteret) says she's in the process of drafting the proposal.  It would allow physicians to get an oil that contains a substance called cannabidiol (CBD), which is extracted from marijuana.  Researchers say the substance, which is not psychoactive, could help children with Dravet Syndrome.  The disorder can cause several seizures a day in young children. 

Picture of marijuana plant
Colleen Danger, via flickr, Creative Commons

A new report from the ACLU says African Americans are more likely than whites to be arrested for marijuana possession in North Carolina.  The survey released today says African Americans were arrested at three times the rate of whites in 2010.  A US Health Department report from the same year showed similar rates of marijuana use among both ethnic groups nationwide. 

Research supported by Duke University scientists linking marijuana use to a drop in I-Q is being questioned. 

Last August researchers at Duke published a study that followed habitual users of marijuana in New Zealand before they turned 18. Subjects of that study showed an average drop of eight I-Q points when their aptitude was measured. 

Duke University researchers say there's evidence that early marijuana use has a negative impact on intelligence. The study examined routine cannabis users who began smoking before the age of 18. On average, subjects showed an 8-point drop in I-Q when measured at age 13 and then again at 38. Madeline Meier worked on the study and says that drop is significant.