North Carolina considering bipartisan legalization measures

With 36 states allowing access to some form of marijuana, whether medicinal or recreational, the rest of the states need to confront the topic.

North Carolina is one of the few remaining states with a prohibition against all use of marijuana. Even though it decriminalized possession of small amounts back in 1977, its penalties for larger possession are still severe. The Marijuana Policy Project reports on legislation regarding marijuana that indicates North Carolinians are considering the question.

Current legislation

A report back in December by the North Carolina Task Force for Racial Equity in Criminal Justice concluded that cannabis policy reform was essential to racial justice. Despite the use of marijuana being equal among White and Black North Carolinians, Black people say more arrests and sentencing.

Republican senators introduced a bipartisan bill earlier in April that would establish a regulatory system designed to oversee the legalization of medical cannabis.

Democrat senators proposed a different bill to legalize, regulate and tax recreational cannabis for adults 21 and older.

Current law

Despite the decriminalization, possession of marijuana is still a misdemeanor even with less than 0.5 ounces. That goes on a person’s record and impacts his or her future. Possession of more than that, up to 1.5 ounces, may incur jail time and a fine of up to $1000.

Drug crime charges are complex enough that one mistake may have serious consequences for the rest of a person’s life. Even though there is a chance that legislation amends the current law at a later date, it is important to understand the legal limits and ramifications that North Carolina has today.