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Local & State

Legalized cannabis drive picks up momentum in North Carolina
Neighboring Virginia's OK adds pressure
 
Published Tuesday, April 27, 2021
by Herbert L. White

PHOTO | UNSPLASH
Momentum is growing in North Carolina to legalize cannabis after Virginia lawmakers decriminalized the plant with legislation that becomes law on July 1. A bill introduced the the N.C. House would legalize use of up to 12 marijuana plants for people 21 years of age and older and allows regulation for growers, producers, retail outlets and on-site usage establishments.

Another cannabis legalization bill has been introduced in the North Carolina House of Representatives.


Rep. John Autry, a Charlotte Democrat, along with colleagues Allison Dahle (D-Wake), Pricey Harrison (D-Guilford), and Zack Hawkins (D-Durham), introduced HB 617, which would decriminalize and regulate the sale, possession, and use of marijuana in the state.


“With the appropriate regulation, this can be a game changer for North Carolina, which is already a large producer of hemp products,” Autry said. “Growers who were required to destroy their entire crops can now legally dispose of higher THC content vegetation. It’s a win for farmers and entrepreneurs investing in this new industry.”


After years of resistance, North Carolinians are embracing the idea of legalized marijuana, a step neighboring Virginia will turn into law starting July 1. A January Elon Poll revealed that 54% of adults support legalization for recreational use, and even a Republican lawmaker, Bill Rabon of Brunswick County, introduced a bill that would legalize medicinal cannabis earlier this year. Rep. Kelly Alexander Jr., a Charlotte Democrat, has been a longtime sponsor of legalization for medicinal purposes.


HB 617 defines state standards for cannabis production and distribution under a system of licensing, regulation, and taxation. It includes lab testing, potency labeling, secure packaging, advertising restrictions and education programs.


HB 617:
• Allows regulations for growers, producers/processors, retail outlets, and on-site usage establishments.


• Establishes a Registration Department.


• Provides for the collection of state and local taxes, which proponents contend would pump millions of dollars into government coffers.


• Establish the Office of Social Equity to conduct community reinvestment and repair, social equity, cannabis education and technical assistance initiatives.


• Make legal use, possession, and cultivation of up to 12 cannabis plants for people 21 or older for personal use.


Under the legislation, supporters contend, cannabis-related businesses would only be allowed to expand if they prioritize diversity, good wages, sustainability and community investment. The bill promotes the participation of people most impacted by prohibition as well as reinvest in communities that have been disproportionately impacted by it. In addition, the legislation would address substance abuse treatment and education and train more law enforcement officers to detect impaired driving.


“We all know someone or have a constituent that has contacted House members’ offices for help with a relative or friend being jailed for possession of small amounts of marijuana,” Harrison said in a statement. “We took great care in writing this bill to include items to encourage bipartisan support. This bill will ensure appropriate guidelines and restrictions.”

Research has revealed that about half of Americans admit to having used cannabis despite more than eight decades of prohibition. Marijuana possession is the most common drug offense, making up more than half of drug arrests nationally and men with criminal records make up 34% of non-working men between ages of 25 and 54.


Prohibition has brought disproportionate interaction with the legal system, especially for Black communities.


“Despite cannabis usage rates between whites and non-whites being similar, Black Americans are arrested for cannabis offenses at a rate of nearly 4:1, compared to whites,” John Hudak, deputy director of the Center for Effective Public Management at the Brookings Institution wrote last year. “And in a nation with nearly 700,000 cannabis-related arrests each year (a number that was over 800,000 a few years ago), these policies affect an enormous number of Americans.”


According to a study done by the Wharton Public Policy Initiative at the University of Pennsylvania, $78 billion to $87 billion is lost nationally every year due to lost output from people with criminal records.


“This comprehensive bill also includes reform measures to expunge prior convictions to a certain degree,” Dahle said.  


Although opposition to legalization is still formidable, advocates insist cannabis will also lessen the influence of more powerful narcotics and opioids that lead to addiction.


“Evidence shows cannabis is the opposite of a gateway drug,” said Zac Lentz, board chair of NC NORML a legalization advocacy group. “Rather, it’s an off-ramp. In states where cannabis is legal, the use of other drugs including prescribed drugs is less. Unfortunately, North Carolina suffered more that 12,000 opioid overdoses in 2019.”

Comments

North Carolina needs MMJ, I am so glad Virginia will have dispensary's
and If N.C. does not hurry and open up dispensary's we can all ways
go to Virginia and get it. N.C. people have a lot of friends who live
in Virginia, ( Sorry North Carolina better Hurry).
Posted on May 14, 2021
 
The medical importance of cannabis has just scratched the surface- so many maladies that can be helped -
Posted on May 13, 2021
 
North Carolina is Losing Mega Millions by not having Medical Marijuana
some people have family and friends in Virginia and they send it to them.
Posted on May 13, 2021
 
Anyone who has been down the road of opiate addiction can see the importance of passing this legislation! Far more safe, and you get to live!
Posted on May 13, 2021
 
Maybe North Carolina owes the cartels a few "favors" ,still.
Posted on May 12, 2021
 
Just order a pound of bud from IHF (international hemp farm) like I did for under $60 including shipping.
Their flower is CBD,CBG etc, with 0.3% thc or less.
So dont bother with the local shops charging a fortune, save some money and order it by mail.
Since it is completely legal to do so, do so before NC changes the laws again.
They have some pounds under $100 today, might not last long...
Posted on May 7, 2021
 
The time has come for NC to get on board with this. The health factors play a big role. I know people with cancer who use it and they do wonders on it. I know someone who had it and the used it to maintain there eating and weight the whole time during his battle with cancer help these people. With VA about to open up whats to give the people the say to spend money for that state and the profit from it when we would use it to help out our state.
Posted on May 3, 2021
 
I served in the military for a few years and got hurt and got out. They overloaded me with pain killers that later led to a bad opiate addiction. Feeling trapped within my own life and running out of options of getting off of pain killers I was introduced to marijuana. It helped me get out of my addiction and led me to a better lifestyle. I have a great job and a great support system behind it all. I'm able to live my best life and have my family back after the loss from my old addiction. There is great benefits of legalizing marijuana that could help veterans like me with the same situation rather then having our government push pain killers and trapping us into addiction of long regrets and heartaches for our family's. This bill is way past overdue.
Posted on May 3, 2021
 
Why does NC always have to be the last bastion of token christianity and the first to disregard the needs of it's citizenry despite the cost to the state and it's folks. Take your pick: pain survivors who need help: prohibition of online gambling while fostering a purely chance state lottery; sick folks getting sicker due to obsolete medicaid administration. Hey, Jesse Helms is dead. Donald Trump has been banished to Fla. It's been 400 years since the puritans landed yet we shoot off our own foot because the assembly thinks the only way they can get re-elected is to force us to behave like their fake christian facades suggest that they are not total hypocrates.
Posted on May 2, 2021
 
We Need Medical Marijuana in N.C. we will be going to Virginia to buy
it for pain relief, North Carolina will be losing Mega Millions.
Posted on May 2, 2021
 
I m 49. Live with severe nerve damage 24/7 from mesh! I have ic a debilitating disease, I have fibromyalgia, pudendal neuralgia, I'm on opoids I don't like them, but I need relief, millions are in pain from all kinds of mesh and pain!! Pls help legalize medical marijuana to give some kind of life
Posted on May 1, 2021
 
It is long overdue to legalize marijuana in this state. There are lot of us who are fighting cancer and it's a known fact medical marijuana is better than some of the drugs offered. There is money to be made by legalizing marijuana. By legalizing, will stop laced marijuana coming from Mexico. It's time to pass this bill like Virginia did. Having in in law enforcement, since the seventies police have been wanting it to be legalized. There are more important things they can do besides arresting people who smoke. I have an incurable Cancer and I could really benefit from marijuana
Posted on May 1, 2021
 
We are michigan growers. C'mon guys, we wanna move there!
Posted on May 1, 2021
 
PLEASE LEGALIZE MARIJUANA SO I DONT HAVE TO LEAVE MY FAMILY TO PURSUE MY DREAMS IN THE INDUSTRY. IT IS TIME THE NORTH CAROLINA RESIDENTS SHOULD HAVE THE CHOICE TO BE ABLE TO INTAKE IN MARIJUANA. NC IS READY FOR IT LETS GET IT GOING!!
Posted on May 1, 2021
 
What's next
Posted on April 30, 2021
 
Legalize marijuana recreationally and allow the citizens to choose for themselves! We don't need to be babysat over a plant that provides benefits for so many. We need freedom of choice, personal choice.
Posted on April 30, 2021
 
Get with it y'all!!! Approve recreational marijuana the state of NC will be missing out on billions of dollars that could benefit this state!!! I don't understand how as an adult I can't choose what I want to ingest into my body and use my money to pay for without being judged and arrested by people that don't know me!!! NC ALWAYS IS THE LAST STATE TO MOVE FORWARD WITH ANYTHING THAT WILL ASSIST WITH REVENUE!!!
Posted on April 30, 2021
 

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