Appeal by the State from Brannon, Judge. Orders entered 26 May 1982 in Superior Court, Hoke County. Heard in the Court of Appeals 26 April 1982.
Clark, Judge. Chief Judge Morris and Judge Martin (Harry C.) concur.
This appeal raises two questions: First, did the trial court err in Order No. 1 by its interpretation of G.S. 90-95(h)(1), holding that both possession and manufacture were a single crime; and second, did the trial court err in Order No. 2 by dismissing the charges against the defendants on the grounds that the destruction of most of the seized marijuana plants by law officers violated statutory and constitutional rights of the defendants?
I. The Interpretation of G.S. 90-95(h)(1).
Each of the defendants was charged with four crimes: (1) possession and (2) manufacture of marijuana in violation of G.S. 90-95(h)(1), and (3) conspiracy to possess marijuana and (4) conspiracy to manufacture marijuana in violation of G.S. 90-95(i).
These statutes read as follows:
"(h) Notwithstanding any other provisions of law, the following provisions apply except as otherwise provided in this Article.
(1) Any person who sells, manufactures, dilivers, transports, or possesses in excess of 50 pounds (avoirdupois)
of marijuana shall be guilty of a felony which felony shall be known as 'trafficking in marijuana' and if the quantity of such substance . . ."
"(i) The penalties provided in subsection (h) of this section shall also apply to any person who is convicted of conspiracy to commit any of the offenses described in subsection (h) of this section."
There are many rules of statutory construction. See 12 Strong's N.C. Index 3d Statutes §§ 5-7 (1978). The most conspicuous rule is that the intent of the legislature controls the interpretation of a statute. In re Banks, 295 N.C. 236, 244 S.E.2d 386 (1978); State v. Hart, 287 N.C. 76, 213 S.E.2d 291 (1975). Other sections of G.S. 90-95 have been interpreted by the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals of North Carolina. All of G.S. 90-95 deals with the same subject matter, violations of the Controlled Substances Act and penalties for these violations. Some of the other sections of the statute contain some of the same words in describing unlawful acts as does G.S. 90-95(h)(1). All parts of the same statute dealing with the same subject are to be construed together as a whole. Duke Power Co. v. Clayton, Comr. of Revenue, 274 N.C. 505, 164 S.E.2d 289 (1968); In re Heckerson, 235 N.C. 716, 71 S.E.2d 129 (1952). Among other indicia considered by the courts in determining legislative intent are previous interpretations of the same or similar statutes. Wainwright v. Stone, 414 U.S. 21, 38 L. Ed. 2d 179, 94 S. Ct. 190 (1973); In re Banks, supra.
G.S. 90-95(h) and (i), on which the subject indictments are based, are a part of Chapter 1251 of the 1979 Session Laws, entitled "An Act To Control Trafficking In Certain Controlled Substances."
Prior to the enactment of Chapter 1251 of the 1979 Session Laws, the majority of the substantive offenses involving illegal drug activities were set forth in G.S. 90-88 before passage of a 1973 amendment, and thereafter in G.S. 90-95(a)(1), (2) and (3), which made it unlawful for any person to manufacture, sell, or deliver, possess or possess with intent to manufacture, sell or deliver, a controlled substance. These same statutory sections are now a part ...