By Steve Elliott
Republicans in the North Caroline Senate on Monday pushed through a bill that would take away food stamps and job training for people who fail a drug test. At the same time, they rejected an amendment offered by Democratic Senator Gladys Robinson which would have drug tested the governor, cabinet secretaries and the lawmakers themselves.
In a 35-15 vote almost completely along party lines, the senators passed SB 594. One lone Democrat voted for the bill, and no Republicans voted against it, reports David Edwards at The Raw Story.
The bill requires Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) applicants to pay for their own suspicionless drug tests. Those who test negative would be eligible to have the cost of the tests reimbursed.
The policy could cost the state more than $2.1 million.
"We receive state funds, we represent the law, we institute policy," Sen. Robinson told the other senators on Monday night. "So, it should not be above any of us to submit to drug screening."
Republican Sen. Jim Davis claimed he didn't mind being tested, but said that he would vote against the amendment because it had no mechanism to reimburse him for the $100 test. He didn't seem overly concerned that welfare applicants -- who have far less money than Senator Davis -- will face the same problem.
HB 637 would replace criminal penalties for simple marijuana possession with a civil fine similar to a traffic ticket
By Steve Elliott
A bill introduced by State Rep. Kelly Alexander, Jr. (D-Mecklenburg) to downgrade the penalty for simple possession of marijuana in North Carolina, passed first reading on Wednesday and was referred to the House Committee on Judiciary.
HB 637 is being co-sponsored by Rep. Carla Cunningham (D-Mecklenburg), Rep. Beverly Earle (D-Mecklenburg), Rep. Susan Fisher (D-Buncombe), Rep. Susi Hamilton (D-Brunswick, New Hanover), Rep. Pricey Harrison (D-Guilford), Rep. Rodney Moore (D- Mecklenburg), and Rep. Bobbie Richardson (D-Franklin).
The bill would replace criminal penalties for the possession of less than one ounce of marijuana with a civil infraction similar to a traffic ticket. Simple marijuana possession is currently classified as a Class 3 criminal misdemeanor and is punishable by a suspended sentence and a $200 fine.
A majority (56 percent) of North Carolina voters believe the penalty for marijuana possession should entail only a fine, according to a Public Policy Polling survey of 611 voters released in March.
"We applaud Rep. Alexander and his House colleagues for championing a more sensible marijuana policy for the Tar Heel State," said Robert Capecchi, deputy director of state policies for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP).
By RICHARD DEVAYNE, NBC Charlotte
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- A recent poll says the majority of North Carolina residents support the legalization of medical marijuana. The study by Public Policy Polling reports that 58 percent of people in the Tarheel state agree that using marijuana for medical reasons should be legal.
One such person is Perry Parks, who is a 29-year veteran of the United States Army. Parks said he suffered a back injury more than a decade ago, which left him in constant and severe pain.
Now he said that he breaks the law everyday because after years of taking other medications, the only relief he gets is from cannabis.
Parks said he supports a bill that state Representative Kelly Alexander, Jr. (D-Meck) will introduce Wednesday in the house to legalize marijuana.
Written by Colby Dunn, Smoky Mountain News
If someone said the word "hemp," the first thing to spring to mind probably wouldn't be home construction. But if you're looking for a strong, green, energy-efficient building material that's resistant to pretty much everything, hemp might be your best choice.
This is the concept being pitched by Greg Flavall and David Madera, owners of an Asheville-based business called Hemp Technologies. They're some of the first to build with the material in the United States, where industrial hemp hasn't seen the rise in popularity it enjoys in other countries, thanks to a federal ban on U.S. production.
Its recognition is slowly ramping up, though, due in part to its benefits over standard concrete. The third house in the country to be built with the technology is going up now, in the mountains above Lake Junaluska.
Roger Teuscher, the homeowner, said he was turned on to the idea by his first architect, who suggested the plant as a cleaner, greener alternative to standard homebuilding supplies. Tuescher, who lives most of the year in Florida, said he was drawn not only to the cost savings gained by increased insulation, but by the product’s recyclability.
By USA Today Staff
Hemp is turning a new leaf. The plant fiber, used to make the sails that took Christopher Columbus' ships to the New World, is now a building material.
In Asheville, N.C., a home built with thick hemp walls was completed this summer and two more are in the works.
Dozens of hemp homes have been built in Europe in the past two decades, but they're new to the United States, says David Madera, co-founder of Hemp Technologies, a company that supplied the mixture of ground-up hemp stalks, lime and water.
The industrial hemp is imported because it cannot be grown legally in this country — it comes from the same plant as marijuana.
Its new use reflects an increasing effort to make U.S. homes not only energy-efficient but also healthier. Madera and other proponents say hemp-filled walls are non-toxic, mildew-resistant, pest-free and flame-resistant.
"There is a growing interest in less toxic building materials, says Peter Ashley, director of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's Office of Healthy Homes and Lead Hazard Control.
"The potential health benefits are significant," he says, citing a recent study of a Seattle public housing complex that saw residents' health improve after their homes got a green makeover.
UNCC researchers create a formula for recycling old bottles into new building materials
By Amber Veverka, Special Correspondent, Charlotte Observer
A UNC Charlotte researcher with a passion for sustainability is creating a new building material out of recycled plastic bottles and an ancient grass.
Dr. Na Lu, an assistant professor at UNCC's Department of Engineering Technology, has created a material she believes may outperform composite lumber and wood lumber in many uses, and which has potential to be used in the residential and light commercial building industry.
In her lab at UNCC, Luna, as she prefers to be called, holds a dog bone-shaped sample of her creation: a beige plastic woven with threads of what looks like horsehair. "Hemp," Luna says, and points to a fluffy pile of the fibers on the table.
Unlike much present-day composite lumber, Luna's product substitutes hemp fibers for more typical chipped wood often mixed with virgin plastic. And unlike pressure-treated wood, the hemp material contains no toxic heavy metals.
Wood fiber is structured like a bundle of straws, she said, but hemp's crystalline structure gives it greater mechanical strength. She demonstrates by holding out a handful of hemp fibers to pull.
"This (hemp composite) material performs up to 4,000 to 6,000 psi (pounds per square inch)," Luna said. "That's as strong as medium-strength concrete."
Larry Thomas, Furniture Today
HICKORY, N.C. — Veteran furniture executive Ken Fonville has launched a company based here that produces made-to-order, environmentally friendly leather and fabric upholstery.
The new company, EcoSelect Furniture, is selling its products exclusively online and will ship custom orders in four to six weeks, Fonville said.
"We can provide eco-friendly living room sofas and leather living room chairs at no premium cost to the consumer who wants to live good, while living well," said Fonville. "There is a need for a dedicated and committed furniture supplier to this consumer."
The EcoSelect line currently includes 12 seating groups, which are available in six leather colors and six correlating hemp fabric colors.
The company gets its leather from an ISO 14001 certified supplier who uses, among other things, recycled leather tanning materials. The fabric created from hemp uses significantly less herbicides, pesticides and water than cotton, Fonville said, while the factory uses recycled steel for springs, soy-based foam cushioning and certified lumber for frames.
Information is available on the company's Web site at www.EcoSelectfurniture.com
Fonville has more than 30 years experience in the furniture industry, most recently as vice president of merchandising at Fairmont Designs. He also was president of Pennsylvania House from 1996 to 2002.
Naturally Advanced Technologies Secures Hanesbrands Inc. Initial Purchase Order for 10,000LBs of Crailar
By Portland Business Journal staff
Naturally Advanced Technologies Inc. on Tuesday said apparel maker Hanesbrands Inc. has purchased its first batch of Crailar fiber in a significant step toward commercializing the technology.
Portland-based Naturally Advanced (OTCBB: NADVF) developed Crailar technology, which is designed to turn burlap-like hemp into a fabric as soft as cotton.
In August the company announced a joint development agreement with Winson-Salem, N.C.-based Hanesbrands to study how Crailar fiber can be worked into mainstream production.
Hanes ordered about 10,000 pounds of Crailar in the first quarter of 2010. Naturally Advanced didn’t release the price of the sale.
By John Boyle, Citizen Times
Photo by John Fletcher, Citizen Times
Leave it to Asheville to be the first place in the country to build not just one, but two houses largely out of hemp.
Well-established as a green building center, Asheville has two homes under construction - one in West Asheville, another off Town Mountain Road - that use hemp as a building material. The builders and Greg Flavall, the co-founder of Hemp Technologies, the Asheville company supplying the building material, maintain that they're the first permitted hemp homes in the country.
"This area is known to walk the talk of being green," Flavall said, adding that the Asheville area has by far the largest percentage of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, builders of anywhere in the country. Hemp is derived from the same plant that marijuana comes from. Although it contains very little of the active ingredient that gets people high and is completely impractical to smoke, it's still illegal to grow it domestically.
But builders can import industrial hemp products like Tradical Hemcrete, the material Hemp Technologies sells. When mixed with water and lime, it makes remarkably strong, resilient walls. Some builders generically refer to the walls as hempcrete.
Reported by Claire Hosmann, WECT
Many states are letting voters decide whether or not to allow marijuana for medical reasons.
It is now legal for doctors to prescribe the drug in Michigan, but some doctors aren't comfortable with the law.
While some patients aren't comfortable asking their doctors for pot, they will go to a marijuana clinic.
Julie Kunze has MS and is on multiple medications, but nothing seems to ease the pain or stiffness except for marijuana.
Even though the drug is legal in Michigan and a dozen of other states for medical use, Kunze's neurologist wouldn't prescribe it.
Kunze decided to call Michigan's first marijuana clinic and was approved for an appointment.
The Southfield clinic is run by the Hemp and Cannabis Foundation, a non-profit organization based in Oregon that runs 17 of the clinics in 8 states.
Kunze filled out a questionnaire, met with the clinic director, and paid the $200 fee. Then Kunze met with a nurse and a doctor.
In this case, the doctor was an ophthalmologist who now works in medical marijuana clinics. He gave Kunze a letter that allows her to legally smoke weed.
Julie has to go through some extra work to get the permission, but it eases her pain. She says having pot means the world to her.
You can expect to see more of the clinics added in Michigan and other states in the future.