Readers may have heard of the plant commonly known as khat or qat (or Catha edulis, for the botanically inclined). The plant is indigenous to Africa and is popular in parts of that continent, as well as parts of the Middle East, and is commonly and legally used in some of those places. When the plant is ingested, it acts as a stimulant. As with more familiar stimulants, users tend to experience mild feelings of alertness and euphoria in smaller doses; larger doses can induce delusional thinking, mania, paranoia, and heart problems (among other potential harmful effects). Users typically ingest the plant by chewing its leaves. Exotic though it may be, the plant occasionally finds its way into North Carolina. I have heard anecdotal reports of its presence in Durham, and this recent story from WRAL News noted that it was found in Johnston County as a part of an unrelated investigation. This post examines state law on possession and distribution of khat. Read on for the details.
In response to the opioid crisis, North Carolina passed several protections designed to alleviate some of the legal liability surrounding drug use in the interest of harm reduction and public health. One of those protections authorized needle exchange programs (alternatively known as safe syringes programs). G.S. 90-113.27. A recent study examined how the needle exchange program is working in seven North Carolina counties and found that the law was not consistently applied. Brandon Morrison et al., “They Don’t Go by the Law Around Here”: Law Enforcement Interactions After the Legalization of Syringe Services Programs in North Carolina, vol. 19, Harm Reduction Journal, 106 (Sept. 27, 2022). Considering the study’s findings, I thought a refresher on the immunity provisions for syringe exchanges and similar protections would be timely. Read on for the details.
A considerable amount of digital ink has been expended on this blog discussing the rules for identifying drugs at trial and related issues, although it has been several years since we covered it. It’s an important and potentially dispositive issue in drug trials. Consider the following fact pattern:
The defendant is charged with possession of methamphetamine. During her arrest and processing, she tells the officer that she has “meth” on her person, which is seized by the officers. At trial, the officer testifies to her statement about the nature of the substance, and the alleged meth is itself introduced at trial. However, no chemical analysis is introduced, nor is there any expert testimony about the substance, and the defendant presents no evidence. At the close of the State’s evidence, the defendant moves to dismiss, arguing that the State failed to provide sufficient proof of the identity of the alleged drugs. Should the motion be allowed? Read on for the answer.