A new bill to legalize cannabis in North Carolina has been submitted by state lawmakers
The Tar Heel State may be mostly made up of different shades of blue, but lawmakers there are keen to try their hand at some green and legalize cannabis in North Carolina.
A bill passed by North Carolina state legislature this week aims to not only legalize cannabis possession, but also regulate a recreational cannabis industry.
House Bill 617, filed Tuesday with the legislature, would set out “Registration and Licensing Requirements and Procedures for Operating Cannabis Businesses” and “make possession and use of cannabis for personal use by individuals 21 and older lawful within the law Possession Limit ”and would entrust the“ Department of Public Safety (Department) with issuing the registration of cannabis establishments and the annual renewal ”.
The bill would also create the Social Justice Bureau, which The Hill said would “encourage full participation in the regulated cannabis industry by people from communities previously disproportionately harmed by the cannabis ban.”
One of the law’s co-sponsors, Democratic House of Representative Pricey Harrison, told local television broadcaster WBTV that legislation is about responding to empathy.
“We all know someone or have a voter who has turned to the house member’s offices for help from a relative or friend who is imprisoned for possession of small quantities of marijuana,” Harrison said. “We have taken great care in writing this invoice to include items to encourage mutual support. This bill will ensure adequate guidelines and restrictions. “
Cannabis in North Carolina … and the South
There are many reasons to promote the prospect of cannabis legalization in North Carolina. For starters, it has strong support among the state’s electorate. A poll in February found that a majority of North Carolina adults – 54 percent – were in favor of legalizing the use of recreational pots.
Jason Husser, director of the Elon poll who conducted the poll, said the results indicate a significant shift in the state’s views on the matter.
“Opposition to the legalization of recreational marijuana has decreased significantly in the past three years,” said Husser. “I suspect this is in large part due to the wave of states that have passed legalization measures. Medical marijuana legalization is widely supported in every population group we studied. “
Senior state officials have also signaled a willingness to relax the laws surrounding cannabis in North Carolina. Attorney General Josh Stein said late last year he supports decriminalizing the pot in the state.
“You can’t talk about improving racial justice in our criminal justice system without talking about marijuana,” said Democrat Stein. “White and black North Carolinians use marijuana at similar rates, but blacks are arrested and convicted disproportionately. Additionally, it’s time North Carolina had real talks about a safe, measured public health approach to potentially legalizing marijuana. “
Perhaps most importantly, a task force set up by the Democratic government of Roy Cooper recommended North Carolina to legalize cannabis. This is both a boon to the local economy and a remedy to inequalities in the criminal justice system.
North Carolina can also be encouraged by its northern neighbor’s recent actions. That year, Virginia became the first southern state to legalize recreational marijuana. That historic move became official on Wednesday when his own Democratic governor, Ralph Northam, signed the bill, which was passed by legislature earlier this month.
“What this really means is that people will no longer be arrested or punished for simple possessions that follow them and affect their lives,” Northam said on Wednesday. “We know that marijuana laws in Virginia and across the country have been disproportionately enforced against color communities and low-income Virginians.”
Northam said last month that he would like an earlier launch date for legal marijuana in Virginia.