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Two people are facing charges for allegedly selling drugs to thru-hikers along the Appalachian Trail in North Carolina, law enforcement says.
The Macon County Sheriff’s Office said that it had arrested Bobbie Anne Drelick and Ioan Edward Craia after receiving a tip, which led officials to a van in the Rock Gap, North Carolina area. After searching the van with a drug-sniffing dog, deputies found 5.56 pounds of marijuana, 8.78 ounces of psilocybin, 8 doses of LSD, and 10 grams of THC wax resin.
Officers arrested the pair on charges including three counts of possession with intent to manufacture, sell, or deliver marijuana, maintaining a vehicle as a dwelling place, and possession of drug paraphernalia. Craia was also wanted in the state of Virginia for the charges of arson to a monument, breaking and entering, and grand larceny of a firearm.
While drug use isn’t uncommon along the Appalachian Trail, marijuana, LSD, and mushrooms are prohibited on federal land, which hosts a majority of the Appalachian Trail. In addition, while many states have legalized marijuana, and some notable hiking destinations like Colorado have legalized mushrooms as well, both remain illegal in North Carolina. Though the state decriminalized possession of up to 0.5 ounces of marijuana in 1977, instead levying a fine of up to $200, the amount the Drelick and Craia possessed well exceeds that amount.
In recent years, a growing party culture along the trail has also elicited complaints from some locals, businesses, and other hikers, who have pointed to what they characterize as entitlement and disrespect as reasons to limit hiker activity in some towns.
In 2016, one hiker even cataloged hiker accounts of substance use and misuse. One individual wrote: “Look no further than attending Trail Days, plenty of drug use there… I knew of people dropping acid and taking other drugs while thru-hiking.”
“[There is] quite a bit [of drug use] in the south,” another recalled. “It’s nothing crazy and it certainly isn’t anything to get worked up about. It’s mostly just pot…Certain hostels are known for being party centers…Lots of burnouts and drug guys following the bubble and selling [sic] lot to hikers in town. Harmless, in my experience. By the time you’re in Virginia and beyond a lot of that fades because a lot of people have quit.”
In a few notable cases, authorities have cracked down on even generally-legal substances. In 2015, ultrarunner Scott Jurek received a citation for popping champagne on the summit of Katahdin and “littering” (the champagne spilling on the ground). At the time, many hikers suspected that Jurek was being used as an example to deter party culture on the Appalachian Trail.