No progress on medical marijuana in Raleigh
Last update: September 19, 2016
In February 2015, Rep. Kelly Alexander introduced comprehensive medical marijuana legislation, HB 78. The bill would have protected North Carolinians with a variety of serious medical conditions and doctors’ recommendations from arrest and prosecution for using medical marijuana. It also envisioned a system of cultivation, production, and distribution of medical marijuana and medical marijuana products, ensuring that patients whose doctors recommend they use marijuana have safe and reliable access to it. In March, the House Judiciary Committee reported the bill unfavorably, meaning it voted against the bill. The bill received no further consideration for the year.
New legislation will likely be introduced when the new session starts in January 2017.
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 live in North Carolina, please email your lawmakers to ask them to support comprehensive medical marijuana legislation when they return to Raleigh in April.
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 21 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.