Seven Democratic lawmakers in North Carolina are sponsoring a bill that would legalize recreational cannabis in the state, and expunge past marijuana-related offenses.
The legislation, which was introduced in the state Senate last week, follows another proposal in the state to legalize medical cannabis.
If it were to pass, the recreational pot bill would legalize marijuana for adults aged 21 and older, and also “enact a 20% state tax on the sale [of marijuana], and municipalities would be able to enact another 3% tax,” according to local news station WSOC.
Per the station, the tax revenue from marijuana sales would be divided up as follows: “25% to a Community Reinvestment and Repair Fund created by the bill; 10% to a Social Equity Fund created by the bill; 3% to a Cannabis Education and Technical Assistance Fund created by the bill; 7% to the Department of Health and Human Services for evidence-based, voluntary programs for substance abuse treatment or prevention; 2% to the DHHS for a public education campaign for youth and adults about the health and safety risks of alcohol, tobacco, cannabis, and other substances, including driving while impaired; 2% to the DHHS for cannabis research.
Up to 1% to the Department of Public Safety for advanced impaired driving enforcement and drug recognition training; The remaining 50% of the tax revenue would go to the general fund.”
The bill also provides for individuals to have previous pot-related convictions expunged from their records.
“If a person was charged with an offense involving marijuana or hashish that is legal under Chapter 18D of the General Statutes, and such person was convicted, such conviction shall be ordered to be automatically expunged no later than July 1, 2026, in the manner set forth in this section,” the legislation reads.
North Carolina is one of the last remaining states where neither recreational nor medical marijuana is legal.
Late last month, the North Carolina state Senate approved a bill that would legalize medical cannabis treatment for individuals with qualifying conditions such as cancer, ALS, Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), among others.
The state’s Democratic governor, Roy Cooper, has pushed lawmakers in North Carolina to reform its cannabis laws.
In October, following President Joe Biden’s pardon to individuals with federal marijuana convictions, Cooper called for the decriminalization of pot in North Carolina.
“Conviction of simple possession can mar people’s records for life and maybe even prevent them from getting a job,” Cooper said at the time.
“North Carolina should take steps to end this stigma,” the governor added.
In his announcement of the pardons, Biden urged “all Governors to do the same with regard to state offenses.”
“As I often said during my campaign for President, no one should be in jail just for using or possessing marijuana. Sending people to prison for possessing marijuana has upended too many lives and incarcerated people for conduct that many states no longer prohibit. Criminal records for marijuana possession have also imposed needless barriers to employment, housing, and educational opportunities. And while white and Black and brown people use marijuana at similar rates, Black and brown people have been arrested, prosecuted, and convicted at disproportionate rates,” Biden said in a statement at the time.
“Federal law currently classifies marijuana in Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act, the classification meant for the most dangerous substances. This is the same schedule as for heroin and LSD, and even higher than the classification of fentanyl and methamphetamine – the drugs that are driving our overdose epidemic,” Biden added.