Source: Associated Press
Following President Joe Biden’s landmark announcement to issue pardons for the simple possession of marijuana, Gov. Roy Cooper is pushing state Republican legislative leaders to legalize marijuana possession in the state.
Cooper shared his support for President Biden’s decision to pardon thousands during a meeting of a criminal justice task force that he convened in 2020. The Governor spoke about steps to decriminalize simple possession of marijuana in the state; calling on the Republican-led General Assembly to take action.
“Conviction of simple possession can mar people’s records for life and maybe even prevent them from getting a job,” stated Governor Roy Cooper. “The General Assembly didn’t pass your recommendations on this last session, but I believe they should. North Carolina should take steps to end this stigma.”
Earlier this year, the Republican-led state Senate passed a bill with strong bipartisan support that would have legalized marijuana for medical use with a physician’s prescription. However, the bill sat idle in the state House, where many Republicans opposed the legalization.
According to N.C. Policy Watch, “there were 31,287 charges of possession of up to half an ounce of marijuana in 2019, the lowest-level misdemeanor in the state that could result in a fine of up to $200 but no jail time.”
Of those 31,000 charges, 8,520 resulted in convictions. More than 60% of those convicted of the crime were not white.
That same year, there were 3,422 charges for possession of more than a half-ounce but less than 1.5 ounces of marijuana, punishable by up to 45 days imprisonment and a $200 fine. Of those, 1,909 cases resulted in convictions; 70% of those convicted were not white.”
“We need to end this stigma that can keep people from getting jobs and make sure law enforcement keeps its focus on fighting violent crime, drug traffickers and other threats to safe communities,” stated Governor Cooper.