Inaction on medical marijuana bills
Last update: October 10, 2017
The North Carolina regular session adjourned on June 30 but returned for a special session in August. Unfortunately, they did not use this opportunity to consider the three different medical marijuana bills that were introduced in the North Carolina Legislature this year — companion bills HB 185/SB 648 and SB 579. These bills would protect North Carolinians with a variety of serious medical conditions and doctors’ recommendations from arrest and prosecution for using medical marijuana. They would also create a system of cultivation, production, and distribution for medical marijuana and medical marijuana products, ensuring that patients whose doctors recommend they use marijuana have safe and reliable access to it.
In 2014, North Carolina took a small step forward, enacting a CBD-focused law that leaves the vast majority of potential medical marijuana patients without legal protections. It also fails to provide an in-state source for cannabis extracts. For more information, please see our summary of the law.
If you are a medical professional, a patient who might benefit from medical marijuana, or if you know somebody who might benefit from medical marijuana, we would like to hear from you. Contact us today at [email protected].
Decriminalization and prohibition
North Carolina is one of 22 states that have enacted laws to stop jailing those who possess small amounts of marijuana — at least for a first offense. Back in 1977, the legislature approved a significant reduction in penalties, which has been so non-controversial many people don’t even know about it. However, the law is among the weakest decriminalization laws in the nation — a suspended sentence is possible for a first offense, and the offense carries the lasting stigma of a misdemeanor charge instead of a civil violation.
In addition, like most states that have marijuana prohibition, people of color are disproportionately arrested or cited for marijuana offenses. According to government data compiled by the ACLU, while blacks make up 22% of the population in North Carolina, they account for 50% of marijuana related arrests or citations, despite the fact that whites and blacks use cannabis at similar rates.
Speak out: If you believe that North Carolina’s law enforcement dollars could be better spent going after violent criminals, write your legislators a letter urging them to legalize marijuana for adults by regulating it like alcohol.
Contact us: If you are a law enforcement official, a clergy member, a member of the legal community, or if you were arrested for simple possession of marijuana, please email [email protected] to see how you can be of special help. Be sure to include your zip code so we can determine who your legislators are.
Stay connected: To stay updated on the status of marijuana policy reform in North Carolina, be sure to subscribe to MPP’s free legislative alert service, if you haven’t done so already.