Legislators have debated North Carolina’s marijuana possession laws for a few years now, with little changing so far. The lightest charge for people includes a misdemeanor on their record and a $200 fine when found with less than .5 oz. Up to 1.5 oz sees jail time and, above that, the charges become a felony.
As The Hill reports, legislation from both Republicans and Democrats seeks to change that in different ways.
A GOP senator introduced legislation aiming to legalize marijuana, but only for medically qualified patients. Those suffering from cancer, epilepsy and other diseases could possess prescribed marijuana with the appropriate approval.
A team of representatives from the Democrats introduced legislation that would legalize the full sale and possession of marijuana. On top of establishing regulations for lab testing of cannabis and cannabis-based products, it would seek to expunge certain marijuana convictions for residents.
More details of this house bill include establishing an Office of Social Equity to encourage disproportionately harmed communities to have full participation in an industry.
North Carolina’s tough approach to drugs has seen challenges against it in 2018 and 2019. Some decriminalize possession up to 4 oz and others raise the limit for the misdemeanor charge up to 16 oz or less.
This is a complex subject with as many unique answers to the question of legalization as there are states considering it. Currently, possession carries a permanent stigma against the people charged. It puts them in a system that impacts every aspect of their lives.
Some think that it is unnecessary. For now, the laws are what they are and anyone facing a drug charge for marijuana needs to be aware of both the current penalties and a potential future where consumption is legal.