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From his response to Ballotpedia Candidate Questionnaire in 2020:
As Attorney General, I have also pursued policies that promote equity for all North Carolinians and improve public safety. For that reason, I support criminal justice reforms, such as bail reform, juvenile justice reform, and effective reentry. I also support more effective responses to domestic violence and sexual assault. Particularly in light of the killing of George Floyd and the ensuing protests, working toward comprehensive criminal justice reforms must be a priority - and one reason I am honored Gov. Cooper appointed me to co-chair the Task Force for Racial Equity in Criminal Justice in North Carolina.
"Legalization of hemp cultivation is a topic on which I received a great deal of mail when I was in the North Carolina State Senate but I have not read a great deal about it since coming to Congress. One of my concerns is that people would grow hemp to circumvent laws regarding marijuana. Drug addiction is one of the largest challenges we face in this country and I will continue to oppose any effort to make it easier for people to grow and use drugs."
Rouzer was a signatory to a letter to Mike Crapo, the chair of the Senate Banking Committee on Thursday, thanking him for proposing a series of restrictive changes to a House-passed bill to provide marijuana businesses with greater access to financial services.
Bishop was a signatory to a letter to Mike Crapo, the chair of the Senate Banking Committee on Thursday, thanking him for proposing a series of restrictive changes to a House-passed bill to provide marijuana businesses with greater access to financial services.
Budd was the lead signatory to the following letter to Senator Mike Crapo:
We write as Republican Members of Congress who voted against the SAFE Banking Act in the House of Representatives. Thank you for introducing a public health perspective to the question of banking for marijuana enterprises, including recreational stores that are advertising products that are appealing to children. We understand you have received significant pushback from these businesses for raising public health questions related to their business practices, and we urge you to stand strong.
While we have reservations with the unprecedented approach of allowing banking access for a schedule I drug, in addition to increasing investment in marijuana enterprises even as they remain federally illegal, we view the following items as the most critical problems with legislation that liberalizes federal law surrounding marijuana and would result in increased promotion of marijuana use:
The Surgeon General recently warned about the danger to mental health of today’s high-THC marijuana products, saying “this is not your mother’s marijuana.” The average potency of marijuana during the Woodstock era was 1-3% THC, while today the average potency of marijuana in dispensaries is closer to 20%. In addition, many concentrated products, including vapes, have potencies exceeding 90% THC. Most of the negative impacts we know about from scientific studies, including IQ loss, increased risk of serious mental illness, and addiction, come from relatively low-potency marijuana (approximately 5-10%). We do not yet know the short and long-term impacts on the brain of these high potency products.
We are still experiencing the effects of a vaping crisis, where over 80% of the illnesses and deaths are tied to THC vapes. Recently, the CDC revealed that 1 in 6 of the cases of lung illness tied to THC were in people who only purchased products from marijuana dispensaries. It is very disturbing that despite that, these marijuana enterprises would continue to advertise and promote use of THC vapes, often through social media platforms that are geared towards youth. It is also disturbing how successful they’ve been, with the number of high school seniors vaping THC nearly doubling last year.
Many of us have had the unfortunate experience of having to console grieving families who have lost loved ones to marijuana impaired driving in our states and districts. States that have legalized marijuana have seen sharp increases in active THC found in the blood of those who have caused crashes and fatalities, but all states have been experiencing increased rates of drug-impaired driving. We still don’t have a means for easily detecting roadside marijuana impairment comparable to the breathalyzer. Until we can address these issues, we need to slow down and promote research into the impairment effects of the drug.
We thank you again for your examination and consideration of these important public health topics. We remain opposed to liberalizing drug laws (including around banking), and we see these as some of our areas of greatest concern. We must protect our youth by preventing investment into companies that would prey upon them.
From his editorial in The Sampson Independent:
You cannot distinguish smokable hemp from marijuana and there is no accredited field test that can accurately tell the difference.
I strongly oppose the legalization of marijuana and since you cannot tell the difference between smokable hemp and marijuana I currently oppose smokable hemp and will continue to do so until there is an accredited field test that secures for law enforcement the tools they need to fight the never ending scourge of drug use destroying so many lives and families in our state and nation.
“My philosophy right now is, we are actually legalizing recreational marijuana if we don’t listen to our law enforcement and do something about this,” said North Carolina state Rep. Pat McElraft, a Republican and deputy House majority whip.
The rise of hemp products so similar to marijuana has caught some lawmakers by surprise. Nobody talked about smoking hemp or said police couldn’t tell the difference between hemp and marijuana when North Carolina created a hemp pilot program in 2015, McElraft said.
From Charlotte Observer:
House Deputy Majority Whip Pat McElraft, an Emerald Isle Republican, said that when the General Assembly agreed to start the industrial hemp commission, it was talking about hemp products like rope and soap.
“Our farmers should never have been given the bill of sell, s-e-l-l, for smokable hemp,” McElraft said.
Mountain Xpress, 5/12/2017
“It seems to me to be long overdue, since there is reputable medical evidence to show its effectiveness in treating some illnesses and other medical conditions,” says Rep. Susan Fisher, whose district covers most of Asheville. She wants the Legislature to approve a referendum and let the people decide. “It is not clear to me why people would be opposed to its medical use,” says Fisher, though she notes that “people associate marijuana with other more dangerously addictive substances.”
Rep. John Ager, who’s co-sponsoring the legislation, says, “I had a close friend with colon cancer that had much of her pain mitigated with marijuana before her untimely death. The opioid epidemic is ravaging our state, and this would be a great reason to legalize medical marijuana.” Ager represents northeastern Buncombe County.
“One advantage we have in North Carolina is that we already have a system for controlling the sale of alcohol through state-run ABC stores. Perhaps sale of marijuana through that venue would provide some safety, not to mention revenue for the state,” he notes. “Colorado is funding a lot of school construction with marijuana revenue, and that is a need we have here as well.”
Smoky Mountain News, 1/22/2019:
"It’s not at the top of my agenda. As you know I have campaigned on education and healthcare and universal broadband, that’s where I am putting my energy. I tell you, constituents are talking about this, it certainly part of the public conversation I am listening to. There’s people for it for healthcare reasons, there’s people for recreational reasons, there’s people that think it will solve the revenue and tax problems we have, you’ll hear all kinds of things.
What’s happening across the nation that I am paying attention to and I think North Carolina is paying attention to, and I hope citizens across my district are open-minded and paying attention – but I don’t think it’s going to be a top issue in this legislative session at we’re coming into. I can’t imagine it being so in North Carolina. We have a divided government, have a governor with the veto, we have a lot of issues along the lines of the priorities I’ve said – we’ve got to expand Medicaid, got to improve our school systems, we’ve got to get the infrastructure of the 21st century to the people.
Now, we will be listening to what’s going on in California and their experiences, what the consequences of this are. I mean, what are the pros and cons from real experiences across the nation, rather than just people’s opinions?
We’re actually in a good spot to North Carolina to get some real results before we jump in. North Carolina’s always been a little conservative on issues like this, and I think they’ll continue to be. The short of it is, don’t expect anything that happen right away.
We did legalize marijuana oil for medical purposes in North Carolina, so we’ve got our toe in the medical side as well, so that’s sort of where we stand. Again, I’m listening and I am watching the consequences across the nation, the experiment with this concept, this product, however you want to say it.
The law enforcement community has a big interest in it, the medical community has a big interest in it, public health community has a big interest in it, the business community has a big interest in it, citizens of every stripe, pro and con have a big interest in it, but I think they are little like me, they are watching to see what happens across the country, they may not be against it or for it yet. They’re listening and watching and I am open-minded and listening as well."
Smoky Mountain News, 1/29/2020
Another issue that Clampitt somewhat unwittingly found himself at the center of a few years back was the debate over cannabis, both medical and recreational. As more and more states — most recently, Illinois — continue the march toward nationwide recreational legalization, it’s not far-fetched to imagine that debate playing out in the North Carolina General Assembly over the next few years.
“I don’t immediately see a trend to legalize recreational marijuana, simply because some say it’s a gateway drug and some say it’s not,” he said. “Now, the CBD and the cannabis that’s used for pain management, you know I do see a use for that medically. Given the group that will hopefully be elected, I don’t see legalization of the intoxicating form of cannabis.”
Clampitt shifted the conversation to marijuana, the legal status of which has polarized people around the nation.
“One of the number one emails I get has to do with marijuana as an alternative type drug,” he said, noting that many think it could be a better, safer pain killer than opioids.
“When I say I’m not for recreational marijuana, I mean I’m not for recreational marijuana,” he said.”But I am for medicinal marijuana that doesn’t have the hallucinogens.”
However, those in attendance quickly learned that Clampitt’s opinions on medicinal marijuana are a bit murkier than his stance on recreational pot. Although he couldn’t provide a concrete answer on when medicinal marijuana should be prescribed, he did admit that it benefitted someone close to him — at least initially.
He told an anecdote about how his father, who had both a kidney and his gall bladder removed and was living in Portland, Oregon. He was prescribed marijuana in the form of edible chocolate bars.
“What I’m envisioning is taking an elderly gentleman sitting in a recliner with a cat on his lap taking a big draw, going, 'oh this is some good stuff. I feel great,’” Clampitt said.
Initially, he loved it. Clampitt even joked about trying to get his own hands on some pot.
“You get these little squares and they're 30 bucks or whatever. And I say, I know what I want for Christmas,” he said as the crowd collectively chuckled, “She said, ‘no we’re not sending it to you.’ So I said, ‘fine, I’m flying out there for New Years.’”
However, when his father received his second batch, he had an adverse reaction and developed a rapid heartbeat.
“When we solve that problem, we can create another problem," Clampitt said.
Despite his vague feelings on medicinal marijuana, Clampitt was in favor of growing hemp, which contains negligible amounts of THC — the psychoactive chemical in marijuana.
“It’s being looked at as North Carolina’s next cash crop,” he said of hemp.