Medical marijuana activist Gordon Piland arrested in Asheville, charged with weed possession


Gordon Piland of Candler has been arrested and charged with possessing marijuana plants with the intent to sell and distribute them. Piland is a long-time advocate of using marijuana for medical purposes. A licensed physician in North Carolina in 1981, Piland was tried and convicted in state court for illegally growing marijuana, which he gave to at least one patient./ Photo by Jason Sandford

Gordon Piland, a 68-year-old Candler resident, was arrested last week and charged with possessing more than 7 pounds of marijuana with the intent to distribute it, according to warrants. (Police calculated that amount based on finding about 30 plants at his home.) Piland has a court appearance scheduled for Wednesday in Buncombe County District Court.

Piland is a long-time advocate of using marijuana for medical purposes. He was a licensed physician when he was prosecuted for illegally growing 111 marijuana plants on his property on Hatteras Island in 1981. He was found guilty and sentenced to 111 hours in jail, 111 hours of community service and a $1,110 fine, according to an Associated Press story at the time. Out of all the options that Gordon could have looked into like hytek medical marijuana, he decided to help spread the message of what the use of medical marijuana can do for health conditions, he was out there doing the complete opposite and selling it illegally! He could have went about it the right way and spoke to a cannabis consultant about selling it legally, but this wasn’t the case for Gordon and he has now found himself in a lot of trouble. Maybe he’ll learn from his mistakes.

Piland’s trial was believed to be the first of its kind involving a physician in the U.S., according to a 1984 news story published by The Sentinel in Winston-Salem. National news outlets picked up Piland’s story, which came to symbolize the push for medical marijuana at the time.

In 1996, Piland and was charged with smoking marijuana in public in Asheville. His case went to trial and he was found guilty. Piland became part of a local movement that lobbied Asheville City Council to ease the prosecution of marijuana possession for personal use.

In an interview Tuesday morning, Piland said his aim has always been to ease the pain and suffering of patients.

“I didn’t know much about it 35 years ago, but my patient was in the throes of supreme nausea, and she asked for help. I said I had been smoking it since 1969 and that it was certainly worth a try. It wasn’t going to hurt her. That started my dance with mary jane,” Piland said.

Piland grew up in Winston-Salem, attended the Bowman Gray School of Medicine and started in family practice in Canada before moving to Hatteras Island in 1979. He lost is medical license in 1984 following his felony conviction four years earlier. He moved to Asheville in 1994.

Piland, who was also charged with the possession of opiate pills and psilocybin mushrooms, said he believes it’s unconstitutional for the federal government to declare marijuana illegal. “The laws are unconstitutional and blasphemous – blasphemous in the way that it denigrates one of the creator’s creations,” Piland said. “The absurdity of a plant being illegal is, in its essence, blasphemy.”

Piland, who has also testified as an expert witness on cannabis therapeutics in Buncombe County District Court, said smoking marijuana makes a body’s entire physiology function better. “We have cannabinoid receptors in our body. Every animal with a backbone has cannabinoid receptors. We produce cannabinoids,” he said.

Steve Lindsay and Rod Kight, Piland’s defense attorneys in Asheville, described their client as a man looking to help people.

“You have a man who cares very very much about peoples health and wants to help them with a type of medication that was given us by Mother Earth and has proven effective in so many cases,” Lindsay said.

Kight, who specializes in cannabis business law, described Piland as “a healer who bridges Eastern and Western traditions.

“He was a licensed physician who practiced medicine, but for the past 35 years or so, he’s been practicing in the form of natural tradition. He knows the full spectrum of what it is to be a healer and a physician, and that’s been his life’s purpose,” Kight said.


realestniggah November 1, 2015 - 12:24 pm

marijuana is fine in the hands of responsible people. the quality of life is much higher out west where marijuana is basically legal versus most of the east where big pharma sincerely rules. here the legal system has a strong hold on situational aspects of the human life that truly hinder humans, and in many ways, incapacitates the quality of life for billions of people.

For instance, we all know alcohol kills millions of causes billions of humans to have heart ache–same with ciggs, yet these two things are legal why? Obviously because engaging in those activities fuels the pharmaceutical industry through illness and the legal system.

Their trick is to try and have a stronger legal system then the society it serves. Hence Asheville spent 30 million on their prison industrial complex versus putting money into the community for local and sustainable initiatives. What if the communities prospered on a sincere level? Strength and unity. What happens when they strengthen their legal system, divide and conquer. I feel safe with a bunch more cops around sure, it can be a good thing. But the issue is many laws are fraud and restrict human potential. locking people up for marijuana? what if cops locked up cigarette smokers? those nigs have a lot more issues then pot heads. real talk. Many laws not reflect a system that is not based on freedom, but the anti-freedom or control/domination, etc… Im not complaining becauyse I enjoy living here and don’t have any legal issues with those people, but in all honesty, the GOLDEN RULE should be “NO PERSON Gets in trouble or locked up unless they bring harm to another in a violent or repetitive verbally abusive manner. more, real talk…

Most of our laws are bogus. We need less laws and more freedoms. Places that have true democracy are happy because everyone thrives. In our current societal model, the majority are not thriving. Modern day soup kitchens are food stamps and etc..

In reality healthy and sustainable initiatives are best and anything else is basically on attack on Gods people.

Ed October 28, 2015 - 10:57 pm

The law needs to represent what is beneficial to society. For a long time marijuana was marketed as being “bad” for society for reason like it was a gate way drug which it may or may not be or that it impairs a persons ability to respond like alcohol; yet alcohol is legal. Most of us are condition to have an opinion without having substantial data or observation to back up the opinion. And our opinion can influence weather or not marijuana is legal or not. Today there is more data that reports about people improving in their health from the medical use of marijuana. I certainly don’t go around encouraging healthy people to use marijuana, but if I had cancer or some other disease like diabetes I would want some one to help prepare a batch of the Rick Simpson Oil and I sure as hell would break the law to make it if one of my children or loved ones were that sick. Thank God I don’t have too face that, and thank God that there are courageous people who are willing to face unjust laws in order to help those who are sick. You know there was a time when women use to get burned a live because they could bring healing to sick people with the use of plants. There are laws of counties and of people and then there are laws of nature and God and when they don’t align the emotion of fear can interfere as to which law to follow. Be it with Love that we travel the journey and Be well, because some accepted (legal) methods of healing are invasive and kill the body before giving healing an option.

Bob October 28, 2015 - 10:46 pm

I understand and respect medical use for adults, and understand he’s peaceloving. But he has been treating children, babies and pregnant women with marijuana also, and exposed them to direct use. While there’s lots of research showing benefits or at least lack of harm for most people who use medically or recreationally, there’s growing research showing that straight up marijuana (vs extracted CBD etc) IS harmful to children/teens and we don’t know enough on prenatal use. If you speak to him, he’s a poster child for why someone shouldn’t smoke heavily! Is missing some rational and big picture processing, and judgment.

Faye Daniels October 28, 2015 - 2:16 pm

I’m 73, don’t care about smoking pot, but if others wish to that’s their choice; after all, I enjoy a glass of wine. I have taken Manitoba Harvest hemp oil every day for good health and want the opportunity to take cannabis oil high in CBD for optimal health. It took an inner ear virus three years ago leaving me with dizziness and balance issues to start my researching. I am a believer and supporter; just do your own researching. I have told all my doctors and specialist that if they tell me that I have cancer, I will go to the nearest state where it is legal for my treatment of choice.

People in CO, OR, WA and AK October 28, 2015 - 1:14 pm

Ha ha! Your state sucks!

Goose October 28, 2015 - 12:57 pm

At least he didn’t get shot or executed, like the kid in Seneca SC. Or the dude in Charleston.

Tom McMillan October 28, 2015 - 10:24 am

I support Gordon in his stand to free cannabis for people to use. I talked to him a few months ago at my house and he was telling me I was cannabinoid deficient. That’s because I’ve been in recovery for almost 5 years but I’m still a activist.
Blessings to my brother of the herb, stand strong and tell them you aren’t doing anything wrong.

Weaver October 28, 2015 - 9:06 am

His attorney’s name is Rod Kight, not Kite.

Jeff Brown October 28, 2015 - 5:11 am

Cannabis is the most useful plant on the plant, food, clothing, shelter, energy, medicine, insight, re-creation. It has been mankinds companion from the beginning. Any law against it is a crime against humanity

Jeff Brown October 28, 2015 - 5:12 am


T Tiller October 27, 2015 - 10:05 pm

It’s Rod Kight

Rebecca October 27, 2015 - 9:32 pm

This man has been in this community for a long time. He has always been a kind and positive presence in my experience. The persecution of this plant must end.

Big Al October 28, 2015 - 7:03 pm

Being nice does not entitle one to break the law.

Matt October 28, 2015 - 7:45 pm

No but his reputed good character emphasizes the irrational and unjust nature of the law regarding marijuana.

Bob October 28, 2015 - 10:52 pm

Believing in social justice, holistic health and a pecaeful planet is good character, for sure. Slipping people of all ages marijuana unknowingly because he believes it’s Gods’ almighty miracle substance that everyone should be ingesting (yes…there is much of his story not being spoken about yet) and dosing up children doesn’t scream “good character” to me. He doesn’t deserve to be the Rosa Parks of the Medicaal Marijuana legalization movement as he is being positioned to be.

Big Al October 29, 2015 - 3:07 pm

Drug abuse is NOT a sign of good character.

Adam A October 29, 2015 - 5:21 pm

Do you smoke or drink alcohol? Those are drugs as well, you know.

dal aitch October 29, 2015 - 7:48 pm

neither is willful ignorance.

Doc October 31, 2015 - 12:28 am

You’re correct. As the medical community has recognized, drug abuse is a sign of illness, and does not necessarily speak to a lack of character at all.

Of course we know what you are really trying to say.

But this is your second visceral response to the issue. I do not know your particular history, but it seems clear that you have nothing more to add to the conversation besides emotionally based vituperative commentary.

Your lack of reason here speaks volumes.

Doc October 29, 2015 - 12:47 am

Logic please.

Rebecca was not advocating illegal activity. Her last sentence clearly states that she has a problem with the law itself.

It should not be hard to follow her commentary.

This is where you would make some statement defending the illegality of medical marijuana use.

You’re being evasive, but trying to hide it as a relevant rebuttal.

jtroop October 27, 2015 - 4:06 pm

Once again, glad it wasn’t ten pounds…

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