Another U.S. state has taken a significant step toward de-stigmatizing, and, on a much larger scale, potentially legalizing recreational cannabis in the future. A Forsyth County legislator has announced he is sponsoring a North Carolina bill that would make it legal to possess up to four ounces of cannabis for recreational use.
North Carolina Bill Would Decriminalize Possession
Sen. Paul Lowe (D-Forsyth), the bill’s main sponsor, told the Winston-Salem Journal that his main goal is “to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana,” and added that his latest endeavor is “heading in the right direction.”
Senate Bill 791 and companion House Bill 994 would combine to allow North Carolina residents to possess up to four ounces of cannabis for “personal use,” without being charged. Anything over four ounces would be considered a Class 1 misdemeanor, which can be punishable by up to 120 days in jail.
Under the current law, cannabis possession of a half-ounce or less is considered a Class 3 misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to 20 days in jail, or community service.
In addition to decriminalizing up to four ounces of marijuana for personal use, the bill would also raise the amount of marijuana qualifiable for a Class 1 felony. Currently, 1.5 ounces of cannabis is considered a felony, but if the bills are to be passed, that would be raised to a pound.
Considering the North Carolina is just one of twenty states that do not have any type of medicinal or recreational cannabis legal in any capacity, these bills could represent a huge turning point for the state’s stance on the plant. However, not everyone is totally enthralled with the potential change. Forsyth County district attorney Jim O’Neill told local paper that while he considers Sen. Lowe a close friend, he does not see eye-to-eye on the terms of the bill.
“To characterize four ounces of marijuana as a user amount would be absurd,” O’Neill said. “Conservatively speaking, four ounces of marijuana has a street value of $1,000 and can be broken down into about 120 marijuana cigarettes.”