Response to Medical Cannabis Bill in North Carolina Highlights Challenges for MMJ in South

Image of medical cannabis legalization in the South

Opinions about medical marijuana are shifting rapidly across most of the United States, as evidenced by polls showing growing support for MMJ and the introduction of cannabis-friendly bills in many states so far this year.

But resistance remains strong in one area of the country: the South, which ranks as the last major holdout when it comes to medical marijuana. While voters in Southern states are starting to come around to the idea of medical marijuana, lawmakers are not. Not one state in this conservative region of the country has legalized medical cannabis, in part because of heavy resistance from those in power.

Recent developments in North Carolina highlight just how difficult it is to get a Southern state to go green.

This week, the North Carolina House Rules Committee essentially squashed a medical marijuana legalization bill because, as one lawmaker put it, members were being “harassed” by supporters.

“We (killed) it to be done with it, so people could move on for the session,” Republican Rep. Paul Stam told Lawmakers said they wanted to stop the flood of calls and emails from MMJ advocates lobbying in support of the bill.

It’s  a shocking admission: Lawmakers, after all, are supposed to listen to the people they represent. Instead, it seems they simply felt bothered by the groundswell of support for a bill they might not agree with personally. The GOP-led committee used a rare procedural move to kill the bill, giving the measure an “unfavorable report” and therefore ensuring no further debate about the issue this year. Lawmakers voted to sink the measure after just 20 minutes of public comments in which all but one person who spoke favored the bill.

This is indicative of the general climate for MMJ in other Southern states. Earlier this month, legislators in Alabama shot down a medical cannabis proposal, while the Arkansas attorney general recently rejected the wording of an MMJ ballot measure (supporters will now go back and try to clarify the language).

Medical marijuana bills are under consideration in several other Southern states, including West Virginia, where support among the public is strong.

But the best opportunity to push through medical marijuana measures in the South might be to get the issue in front of voters in 2014 or 2016. A ballot measure to legalize medical marijuana in Arkansas failed in last year’s elections by an extremely thin margin, indicating growing support among the general population. Cannabis supporters in that state are now pushing for legalization during the state’s 2014 general election.

11 comments on “Response to Medical Cannabis Bill in North Carolina Highlights Challenges for MMJ in South
  1. Chris Lindsey on

    Expect legislators to use every excuse possible to ditch mmj bills. Facts, logical arguments and rational, reasoned approaches have little effect when politicians have made up their minds before the hearing begins. Its only when the mj community can affect elections and regulation directly affects the bottom line that we will see elected officials turn around. But the tide is turning, even if there are still waves coming in and out.

  2. Terry on


  3. Jillian Galloway on

    The only way around this is get marijuana so talked about that our legislators simply can’t avoid it. Newspapers, public radio, anywhere our legislators might turn to get the news! Journalists are always looking for new things to write about, let’s give it to them! Legalize marijuana like wine.

  4. Terry on

    Then the threat of being voted out of office may carry some clout.That”s why the voters need to know the whole history of how big corporations and complicit politicians enacted such a draconian law. All angles my friend ,all angles.Thanks for your swift reply. BTW I did enjoy our call last week.Have a great weekend


    im currently 62, all my friends from every walk of life have now been breaking the law since our college days,,i dont drink alcohol..we all rebelled in our youth, its time for todays youth to join us in an effort for legalization that will pnly help us all…it will bring in new taxes,new jobs,we wont be breaking the law,plus in my case the health benefits,im now totally disabled with one or more surgeries every year since 1997,,in addition i have PSTD,fibromyalgia,ideopathic neuropathy,traumatic brain injury and just just about every part of my body operated on. the majority is now in our favor, impeach or vote out ofoffice those who are against this…its time FOR CHANGE…dont let the policies of a few dictate ur life and future as they did mine….PLEASE STAND UP AND BE HEARD…every comment,every srticle,every tweet is important,we didnt have computers,laptops,smart phones in my day,,we had to demonstrate..sometimes having to hitchhike from one college campus toanother for rallies..anyone remember the KENT STATE killings and crowsby,stills,and nash song…4 DEAD in OHIO……that rattled the nation at least the boomers…hope i made some sense..JUST DO SOMETHING,,ANYTHING

  6. Old Hippie on

    The genie is out of the bottle. Over 1/3 of these United States have legalized medical marijuana, and the word is spreading among patients and their extended families just how harmless the stuff really is, and how well it helps with dozens of serious conditions, in many cases without even getting you high. Even police are starting to use it quietly here in California.

  7. Allen on

    I have for the past year been following news for the decriminalization of cannabis. Some impressions I have, are that those groups and individuals attempts to change the laws surrounding cannabis approach lawmakers about cannabis with a hippie type mentality, sure I’ve heard and seen professionals able to clearly articulate pro views and thats the best way to approach lawmakers on both the federal, state and local level with the message to decriminalize cannabis, I thinks using the term cannabis is more accurate than (pot, grass, weed, etc.) terms reminiscent of the 60’s, grass as a drug is inaccurate its an herb, sure drugs once processed by big pharmaceutical companies turn plant matter into drugs but I don’t think that is what pro mmj users want to do. As long as lawmakers feel cannabis is a tune in, turn on and drop out, an attitude promoted by 60’s hippies, of which I used to be, cannabis has a long rode to decriminalization. To the lawmakers that are neutral on the subject, the message that medical benefits of cannabis need to be clearly articulated. To those lawmakers that want nothing to do with cannabis based on religious or moral grounds, cannabis needs to be compared to alcohol and compared to some of the lethal affect of pharmaceutical concoctions. Lets break down what Washington and Colorado have done, instead of reinventing the wheel. Uncle Sam has been providing mmj to certain individuals for years, lets find out why the Feds did that, this is a direct link to the use of mmj. Productive people need to be more outspoken, the baby boomers, college students, etc. How on earth can anyone call an herb a class one drug? People, all angry rhetoric about cannabis must be muzzled. Thanks for the oppty. to vent.

  8. TomTudo on

    Hey they’re becoming more “honest” like communists! Communists make no bones about what they “believe in”. So really these people, er, lawmakers in north carolina are a lot like their mirror images in places like cuba, or north korea. They get about the same dollar for dollar perks as their counterparts too.

  9. dan on

    These people will be voted out.. They will be loosing millions in tax dollars.. And putting people back to work is what this bill will do. A bag will put a person in jail! It cost the tax payers 27000 a year for a bag of weed. Vote them out common sense! They just don’t get It. I fill like that they have little education and can’t right the laws that will govern the industry.

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