States that have removed jail time for possessing small amounts of marijuana
Last update: October 17, 2023
The Eastern Band of the Cherokee Nation legalizes cannabis!
In September 2023, the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Nation approved a referendum to legalize adults’ possession, cultivation, and purchase of cannabis on tribal lands in a 70-30% vote. The Eastern Band of the Cherokee Nation’s lands are within the borders of North Carolina, making this the first time voters in the southern United States voted to legalize adult-use cannabis. The Tribal Council will need to craft legislation to implement the mandate. Both tribal members and other adults who are 21 or older will be able to purchase and possess cannabis.
In 2021, the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Nation passed decriminalization and medical cannabis. The medical program has yet to launch but is expected to begin sales in December 2023 to both tribal members and North Carolinians who qualify. The adult-use program is expected to launch in 2024.
N.C. House of Representatives fail to act on medical cannabis bill in 2023
The North Carolina Senate passed a medical cannabis bill in 2023 — for the second year in a row. However, the House of Representatives again adjourned without taking up the legislation. Veterans and suffering patients will have to wait at least another year. The North Carolina General Assembly has a two-year legislative cycle, so S. 3 will pick up in 2024 where it left off — awaiting action by the House of Representatives.
On March 1, 2023, the North Carolina Senate passed S. 3, the North Carolina Compassionate Care Act, sponsored by Sen. Bill Rabon (R), by a vote of 36-10.
Last year, Tim Moore, the Republican Speaker of the House, said the House would “study” the bill. However, S. 3 was never even scheduled for a committee hearing in the House. Speaker Moore said the House failed to take up the bill because it did not have majority support within the Republican caucus. However, there is no such rule for legislation to be taken up, but rather is a policy being adopted by the current ruling party. A vote count of the Republicans caucus was never released.
Due to this inaction, North Carolina continues to be an outlier, as one of only 13 states that have not enacted a medical cannabis program in the country. In a January 2021 poll, Elon University found 73% of North Carolinians supported medical cannabis. In a May 2022 poll, support had increased to 82% with strong bipartisan support. North Carolinians continue to want a medical program implemented. Please inform your legislators that you support medical cannabis.
Task force recommends decriminalization
In 2020, a task force convened by Gov. Roy Cooper (D) to study racial inequities in the criminal justice system recommended the state decriminalize marijuana possession. Under current law, possession remains a class 1 misdemeanor, subject to up to 45 days imprisonment and a $200 fine. You may inform your legislators that you support decriminalization or the complete end of prohibition.
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Great news! Last week, the Senate Finance Committee advanced a bill that would allow patients to use and safely access medical cannabis if they have a qualifying debilitating medical condition. The committee first adopted an amendment to direct medical cannabis sales tax revenue to fund the medical cannabis supply system and a cannabis research program at the University of North Carolina.