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.