By L.A. Williams, Correspondent
Christian Action League
February 21, 2013
RALEIGH — Lawmakers on Wednesday said no to medical marijuana and bare-breasted women and yes to tougher penalties for makers of methamphetamine.
The Committee on Rules and Operations of the House heard from a trio of marijuana promoters and one opponent of the Medical Cannabis Act before voting to give the bill an unfavorable report, effectively killing the legislation for this session.
The Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League, said at the close of the meeting several of the bill’s promoters launched a verbal attack on Jere Royall, who had represented the North Carolina Family Policy Council in opposition of the bill.
“When I approached Jere, then they started in on me. They were in a rage,” said Dr. Creech. “So much for civility.”
Among the bill’s promoters was Catherine Lyles of Raleigh who told the committee that she had been diagnosed with brain cancer 17 years ago and that marijuana not only stopped tumor growth but also helped with nausea and insomnia. Others also shared stories of how the drug stopped their chronic pain.
But Dr. Creech pointed out that lawmakers can’t declare a substance a medicine based solely on the experience of some who use the drug.
“When you don’t have a consensus among the medical community that this is good for folks and there is also overwhelming evidence that marijuana is damaging and harmful to health, there is not a compelling case for the medical use of marijuana,” he said.
Had the law passed, virtually anyone with a debilitating illness would have been allowed to grow a marijuana patch, have their caregiver grow one for them and/or purchase it from designated producers, licensed by the state to cultivate the crop. Rep. Kelly Alexander (D-Mecklenburg), the bill’s sponsor, said the measure would have generated some $39 million per year for the state via taxes and fees.
“Fortunately, lawmakers were well aware that setting up a dangerous drug as a medicine would be wrong for North Carolina, no matter what the projected revenue,” said Dr. Creech. “We were glad to see this bill defeated in committee.”
He said the CAL was equally pleased to see progress on House Bills 29 and 34.
Sponsored by Rep. Rayne Brown (R-Davidson) and Rep. Tim Moffitt (R-Buncombe), H 34 clarifies the indecent exposure statute by defining private parts to include the areola of the female breast.
Rep. Moffit told the House Rules Committee that Asheville officials trying to prevent another “Go Topless” event in their city were advised by their legal counsel that an ordinance prohibiting women from walking around half dressed might not hold up in court because the state’s indecent exposure law was ambiguous.
Hal Pell, the Legislature’s legal analyst, said the wording in the bill lines up with other state statues regarding indecent behavior as it specifies what is not appropriate for public display. He said the North Carolina Supreme Court had defined “private parts” in a 1998 ruling that did include women’s breasts, but that the definition had never been placed into the statute.
“A minor can’t go into a convenience store on Main Street and look at a picture of a topless woman in a magazine, but as it stands today, they can go onto the street (during the Asheville festival) and see the same thing,” he pointed out.
Supporters made it clear that the bill includes an exemption for breastfeeding and that any violation would have to be willful. In other words, a “wardrobe malfunction” doesn’t count.
The bill got a favorable report from the committee and is headed to the House floor as early as next week.
Already on the House floor Wednesday, H 29 won quick approval and is headed to the Senate. The bill would stiffen penalties for those caught manufacturing methamphetamine in the presence of children, the elderly or the disabled and would make it a felony for those convicted of meth-related crimes to possess pseudoephedrine, the main ingredient used to make the highly addictive drug.
“This is a great bill and a great opportunity to support our Attorney General, the Sheriff‘s Association, law enforcement across the state and people across North Carolina who are fighting one of the most insidious drugs around,” said Rep. Craig Horn (R-Union). “Every county in the state has a meth problem.”
As Chairman of the House Select Committee on Methamphetamine Abuse, Rep. Horn has said that H 29 is the first of a number of bills that he expects to be filed this session to combat the problem.