The North Carolina Task Force for Racial Equity in Criminal Justice, co-chaired by Attorney General Josh Stein and Justice Anita Earls, has recommended the state decriminalize minor cannabis possession and expunge prior cannabis convictions, the Independent Tribune reports.
Additionally, the task force suggests the state begin assessing the feasibility for further cannabis reforms including adult-use cannabis legalization.
“You cannot talk about improving racial equity in our criminal justice system without talking about marijuana. White and Black North Carolinians use marijuana at similar rates, yet Black people are disproportionately arrested and sentenced. Additionally, it is time for North Carolina to start having real conversations about a safe, measured, public health approach to potentially legalizing marijuana.” — AG Josh Stein, via the Independent Tribune
Stein is referring to the staggering statistic that in North Carolina, where people of color only make up 30 percent of the population, 63 percent of people who are arrested for cannabis in the state are non-white.
Despite having passed a sub-standard decriminalization law in 1977, penalties remain stiff in North Carolina with possession of up to 1.5 ounces carrying a possible 45-day prison sentence.
North Carolina does have a medical CBD program but in-state sources for the oil have never been established and the law only applies to patients with intractable seizure disorders.
Ballot measures are not allowed in North Carolina. Some lawmakers there have pushed for new cannabis legislation in recent years but found little success, the Marijuana Policy Project reports.