Guest writer William Coleman is the former Director of North American Operations for InLog Logistics Solutions and Senior Account Executive for R+L Trucking. Guest writer’s opinions do not necessarily reflect those of the Charlotte NORML or National NORML. Your comments are welcome.
Legalization: Repeal of North Carolina’s Marijuana Laws
North Carolina’s Legacy – The Path of Freedom
North Carolina was founded as one of the original thirteen colonies and earned the state’s motto “First in Freedom”. Our ancestors refused to be persecuted by a tyrannical government for their beliefs and were courageous enough to make the morally just decision of freedom. North Carolina has never sacrificed this value and hopefully never will. Today, our state needs to make the same ethical choice of our forefathers and demand freedom. The time is NOW to choose the righteous path that the majority of America has taken and vote to repeal North Carolina’s archaic laws on marijuana. As our state government continues to ignore the opinion of its citizens and refuses to acknowledge the socioeconomic and medical benefits of marijuana, North Carolina slips further into depression that effects all aspects of life.
Follow the Science
The use of medical marijuana is approved by 89% of the American public. Cannabis has been prescribed to treat glaucoma, epilepsy, cancer and PTSD, just to name a few. Almost everyone has lost a relative or loved one to cancer. The word itself conjures up terrible images of numerous surgeries, constant sickness and pain, chemo/radiation, the loss of hair and weight and inevitably death. Cannabis has been prescribed throughout the medical community to help alleviate some of these ailments. As scientists expand their research on this miracle plant, its medicinal possibilities are endless.
We Know How to Grow Stuff for Money – Our Tobacco Legacy
North Carolina and the tobacco industry were almost historically synonymous. Most of the world’s cigarettes were grown, produced and shipped from our state. Cigarette smoking was always a social element in America. When the tobacco industry was found guilty of certain violations, North Carolina suffered a major financial blow and cast doubt on our ethics. If these companies are based in our state, utilizing our crops and employing our citizens, don’t we bear some of the responsibility? How can we make moral restitution to all the cancer patients who were afflicted by our state product? Are we going to choose the Nuremberg defense and claim that we were following orders and did nothing wrong? It is time to do the next right thing and provide our state’s cancer patients a remedy to alleviate their suffering.
Not to Mention Furniture and Textiles
North Carolina has been touted as the state that illustrates the New Progressive South. We have some of the best colleges in the United States, but the rest of our educational system ranks near the bottom of the nation. Unemployment is steadily rising and the number of mid management jobs are nearly nonexistent. Real Estate values have continued to fall and foreclosures are not slowing. Historically, North Carolina has been known for manufacturing and producing the best furniture, textiles and agricultural products, but the majority of companies in these industries are on their last legs. Our state look too often to foreign trade to rebuild our economy. Common courtesy dictates that visitors leave their guest residence in the same or better condition than when they arrived. Can we honestly believe this has happened to our state?
Psst . . . Hey, Raleigh . . . Need Some Tax Revenues?
Cannabis is the largest cash crop on the market. The current information on pricing shows that a pound is selling for between $1500 and $4000. North Carolina has all the tobacco resource that could be utilized for marijuana. The solar industry in our state could be reborn to create environmentally friendly grow houses and farms. North Carolina’s agricultural business could be combined with cannabis to create a natural food and beverage industry for medical edibles. Our retired veterans could be given an opportunity to use their military training to protect this industry. Farmers would be able to earn a solid income while protecting their land from foreclose or environmental destruction.
While 60% of the US states have some form of marijuana legalization in place while North Carolina remains unwavering on their irrational stance. The financial data alone would make a naysayer contemplate their position. The archaic misconception of marijuana are from the 1960’s. Many parents told their children that only dirty hippies without brains or jobs smoked dope and amounted for nothing. Marijuana in 2017 is a multi-billion dollar market that employs thousands of people from doctors, lawyers, scientists and financial leaders to name a few. North Carolina’s economy would benefit immediately and have a rebirth in some of the industries that were hit hardest by the Recession 2007-2009.
In North America, estimates show that the cannabis industry is valued at $56.3 billion and Colorado recently reached $1 billion in revenue. Colorado’s legalization has created 23,407 new jobs and the state’s unemployment rate dropped to a six year low. In 2015, taxes generated from marijuana out produced both alcohol and tobacco combined. State crime statistics have decreased during this period (Property Crime -8.9%, Burglaries -9.5% and Violent Crime -2.2%) and traffic fatalities fell by 3%. States that allow the usage of medical marijuana have reduced both overdoses from prescription medication and the number of opioid prescriptions by 25%. The socioeconomic implications are a vast improvement from our country’s current outlook.
What Will Your Teacher Say?
North Carolina’s educational system is failing and nationally ranked 46th.
Our teacher’s salaries are some of the lowest in the nation (have declined 15% from 2002-2013) and they earn $10,366 less than the national average. In 2015, North Carolina provided $5744 in per pupil expenditure and only subsidizes 5400 slots for pre-K students. The tax revenue generated by the legalization of marijuana can go directly into the state’s educational system.
Colorado recently reached $1 Billion in revenue from cannabis. Colorado’s Department of Education has been the main beneficiary of the marijuana industry’s financial growth. The structured allocation of tax revenue from legalization deemed the first $40 million in excise tax on wholesale marijuana is credited to the state’s public school capital construction assistance fund. Up to $5 million of the excise tax is used for charter school capital construction and the remaining and the remaining funds are used for the Building Excellent Schools Today grant program. Education was rewarded $56 million in 2014, $113 million in 2015 and it is estimated to reach somewhere between $143 million and $185 million for 2016. North Carolina dedicates nearly 5 times the state’s resources ($29,000 annually) to imprison non-violent marijuana users than to educate our young ($5744 annually per pupil). Our children deserve the opportunity to be provided with a top notch education and with this substantial influx of capital… it would be attainable.
In My Mind I’ve Gone to Colorado
North Carolina could follow Colorado’s taxation of cannabis while utilizing our own B.E.S.T (Build, Educate, Support and Teach) program. Our state needs to build an educational system that fosters all areas of learning. Our schools that need rebuilding and repairs must be a top priority. We also need to provide state subsidies for VPK (Voluntary Pre-Kindergarden) and Preschool. This provides the opportunity for our children to start the educational process together, instead of just for a chosen few. The educational system needs to build after-school programs to keep children off the streets and protected. In order to provide the best education possible, North Carolina’s Department of Educations needs funding for computers, science, music, art and theater, not to mention athletic programs and libraries.
Basically, our educational support systems are lacking, but cannabis legalization would help to provide a nurse for every school, security on campus, and meal programs subsidized by the state. The most important element is teaching. Unless we pay teachers a better salary, and insist on quality learning, North Carolina’s educational system will continue to fail.
NC Will Become “Newly Changed”
The two most crucial elements for a business to flourish are timing and location. North Carolina has the location and the agricultural infrastructure to be a top producer and market leader in cannabis. We missed out on the initial socioeconomic utopia that marijuana has created in other states and our window is rapidly closing. When history and medicine illustrate the phenomenal impact cannabis had in America, what will NC stand for….No Compassion? No Commonsense? Nearly Communist?
The Wright brothers (two of the most famous Tar Heels) showed us that innovation can revolutionize the world. North Carolina will be known as Newly Changed. Everyone knows someone who doesn’t drink or smoke for one reason or another. The people who are morally opposed to marijuana have the same freedom as non-smokers or non-drinkers. When offered cannabis, the response would be the same “no thank you.” The time is NOW. Our state needs every dollar of tax revenue from marijuana. Our veterans and sick need comfort.
This is our obligation for legalization. Join us.