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North Carolina House Bill Would Decriminalize Cannabis

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North Carolina has been dragging its feet regarding cannabis regulation, but a recently-filed bill would decriminalize possessing several ounces of cannabis.

Four state representatives filed House Bill 766, which would not only decriminalize possessing up to four ounces of cannabis but would also allow previous convictions of less than four ounces to be removed from records.

If the bill passes, possession of less than four ounces of cannabis or 1/20 of an ounce of resin of cannabis would be a Class 3 misdemeanor. Any caught with more than that could be convicted of a Class 1 misdemeanor. Possession of 16 or more ounces is also still a felony. Previously, 1.5 ounces was a misdemeanor, and more than that a felony. “There are tons of people in jail for a pound. And they’re sitting in jail on sentences that are not doing anybody any good,” said bill sponsor Rep. Allison Dahle. “Lots of people of color and young people are getting busted with possession with intent to sell and deliver. And they’re not selling and delivering. What they’re doing is purchasing it for their private use.”

The bill allows individuals to file their own petition to remove their cannabis possession charges in 2020, and all petitions would have to be filed before July 1, 2020.

Senate Bill 45 also would have decriminalized 3 ounces of cannabis in North Caroline, but has seen little movement since its February filing and move to the committee for rules and regulations. The House bill

“Yes it’s illegal, but they don’t need to be in our jails. It sets them up for the rest of their life struggling. It sets them up for not being able to get a job, having to check that box that says ‘I have a criminal history,'” Dahle said.