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North Carolina man gets into second helicopter mishap

The first helicopter mishap involves a search for marijuana. As Robert Sorrell reports for the Elizabethton Star, 41-year-old Benjamin Barrick was flying a helicopter in 2004 with a Franklin County police officer. They were searching for marijuana. The helicopter crashed and Barrick was charged with involuntary manslaughter, though the charges were later dropped. It's not clear what caused the crash.

In North Carolina, whether the police find marijuana using a helicopter or by looking through the window of your car, marijuana possession comes with a range of consequences, from a misdemeanor charge for less than 1.5 ounces to a felony charge for more than that amount.

The laws do change from time to time. For instance, North Carolina recently "decriminalized" small amounts of marijuana possession; yet, at nearly the same time, it made possession of synthetic marijuana a crime, with similar punishment depending on the amount in evidence.

Barrick's second helicopter mishap involves theft. He took off from the heliport with the owner's $250,000 aircraft, ostensibly heading for another location in South Carolina, but the chopper was discovered in Tennessee.

Source: Elizabethton Star, "NC police say local man disappeared with helicopter," by Robert Sorrell, 12/9/11

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