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Immigration, hemp among topics discussed at sheriffs conference

Sheriff Jeff Crisco attended the North Carolina Sheriffs Association Conference in Wilmington last week to review and discuss laws that have been introduced recently. 

The conference is an annual event, where sheriffs from around the state gather to receive updates on state and federal laws, and statutory requirements for federal cases. Officials from the N.C. State Bureau of Investigation, Alcohol Law Enforcement, U.S. Marshals, FBI, DEA and the Department of Homeland Security are also present during the event. 

Crisco said a major topic dealt with immigration laws. No laws are in place yet, but House Bill 370, a bill that would require local sheriffs offices to cooperate with federal immigration laws, is awaiting a vote. Under federal law, law enforcement officers would have the authority to ask people for citizenship verification. Crisco said the debate surrounding the proposed law has been controversial.

“If you keep up with Mecklenburg County, you know what I’m talking about,” Crisco said. 

A few sheriffs have voiced opposition to the bill, including Mecklenburg County Sheriff Gary L. McFadden. McFadden has stated he does not intend to comply with federal immigration laws. In July, U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis introduced the Justice for Victims of Sanctuary Cities Act. The law would prohibit cities from creating their own public safety laws, and force them to comply with federal statutes. 

Another topic discussed during the conference was hemp laws in the state. N.C. lawmakers introduced Senate Bill 315 last month, a bill that would ban smokable hemp. Supporters of the bill believe the hemp plant looks too much like marijuana, while opponents say the plant has many other uses besides smoking. 

Senate Bill 315 is currently being revised by members of the House.