In case you missed it this morning, be sure to check out the WRAL news story about yesterday’s state House committee action on the issue of smokable hemp. As you’ve probably heard, the issue of hemp cultivation and sale has sparked controversy because the plant is essentially indistinguishable from marijuana, which unlike hemp, contains THC — the chemical that produces the marijuana “high.”
On Wednesday, a state House committee voted to continue to allow the cultivation and development of hemp products, except for smokable hemp. As WRAL reported in its Wednesday roundup:
Rep. Jimmy Dixon, R-Duplin, is adamant that smokable hemp, which looks and smells like marijuana but lacks the THC potency to get anyone high, needs to be banned in North Carolina, or else marijuana prosecutions will be next to impossible to pursue. So, he has inserted the ban into the annual Farm Act, and he also rewrote a Senate bill on controlled substances to define smokable hemp as marijuana. Both bills cleared committees Wednesday.
Here’s the truly amazing part of the first story though:
Law enforcement isn’t just worried about it being harder to enforce marijuana laws but about losing probable cause for searches based on the smell of marijuana smoke, or when a drug dog keys in on a vehicle.
“If this bill passes without the ban, we will put 800 of our law enforcement dogs and their handlers out of business,” Dixon said.
Did you get that? The reason Dixon and company want to keep smokable hemp and marijuana illegal is to protect law enforcement jobs and to continue to provide an excuse for police searches!
To which, all a body can say in response is: Hello! Those are not legitimate reasons for something to be illegal and for government to be imprisoning people. Marijuana is already effectively legal for the majority of Americans — a reality supported by nearly two-thirds of the population.
The bottom line: It’s absurd that North Carolina continues to criminalize this substance, doubly absurd that we would extend the prohibition to smokable hemp and triply absurd that the rationale behind the policy would be based on something as irrelevant as its impact on law enforcement or the ability of law enforcement officers to investigate other offenses. As one observer noted yesterday, if they’re really so concerned about law enforcement jobs, Dixon and his allies would do well to redirect their time and energy toward retraining the dogs and their trainers to sniff out white collar crime.