North Carolina lawmakers are considering a bill that would downgrade marijuana possession of an ounce or less from a misdemeanor charge to a civil infractions on par with a traffic ticket.
State Rep. Kelly Alexander, who earlier this year pushed unsuccessfully for medical marijuana in North Carolina, introduced House Bill 637 earlier this week. In addition to decriminalizing small amounts of cannabis, if House Bill 637 were to pass it would also allow people convicted of simple marijuana possession of less than an ounce to have the conviction expunged from their record.
“You have a growing number of people who, in their youth, may have had some indiscretion and essentially have not had any other problems,” Kelly told WNCT in Raleigh.
House Bill 637 passed first reading on Wednesday and is now set to be heard by the state Judiciary Committee. But unfortunately, the theme with North Carolina marijuana bills seems to be that they die in committee. Alexander’s medical marijuana bill was killed in committee with an unfavorable report after the chairman complained that state lawmakers were being “harassed” by phone and email from medical marijuana supporters.
According to the Marijuana Policy Project, 56 percent of North Carolina voters think the punishment for marijuana possession should be no worse than a fine. Currently, a half ounce or less is a misdemeanor charge with up to $200 in fines. Between an half ounce and one-and-a-half ounces is also a misdemeanor with up to 45 days in jail and $1,000 in fines.