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North Carolina Governor Urges State Lawmakers To Legalize Pot

North Carolina governor Roy Cooper took a cue form President Joe Biden. Roy Cooper called on state legislators to end marijuana prohibition on Friday.

“Conviction of simple possession can mar people’s records for life and maybe even prevent them from getting a job,” Cooper, a Democrat, said during a task force meeting on racial equity and criminal justice, as quoted by the Associated Press.

Cooper noted that the state General Assembly, which is controlled by Republicans, failed to act on the task force’s recommendations in the previous session, but he said he “believe[s] they should.”

“North Carolina should take steps to end this stigma,” the governor said.

According to the Associated Press, the task force that Cooper addressed on Friday was established “by Cooper in June 2020 after George Floyd’s murder,” and it consists of a “24-member panel of law enforcement officers, attorneys, civil rights advocates and state officials.”

The AP reported that the task force “recommended in a 2020 report that state lawmakers replace the misdemeanor charge for possessing up to 1.5 ounces of marijuana with a civil offense on par with a traffic infraction.”

Josh Stein, a Democrat and North Carolina Attorney General, urged legislators to continue with reforming cannabis.

They called Biden just days after he said he would pardon federal convicts for simple marijuana possession.

In his announcement on Thursday, the president called on “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. To send people to prison because they possess marijuana is a way of ruining lives. It also makes it difficult for people to be incarcerated for not complying with laws in their states. In addition to preventing people from getting jobs, housing and education, criminal records for marijuana possession can also create barriers that prevent them from getting a job. 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.

Crucially, Biden’s announcement was also framed as a first step toward decriminalizing cannabis under federal law, with the president saying he has asked “the Secretary of Health and Human Services and the Attorney General to initiate the administrative process to review expeditiously how marijuana is scheduled under federal law.”

“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 said.

The president added: “Too many lives have been upended because of our failed approach to marijuana. It’s time that we right these wrongs.”

North Carolina remains one of few states in which neither recreational nor medical cannabis is allowed.

A bill to legalize medical cannabis was considered by state lawmakers earlier this year. The bill received unanimous approval from the Senate.

The legislation was stopped by the House of Representatives.

It would have been the strictest medical marijuana law in America if it had passed.

North Carolina’s voters support both recreational and medical cannabis, despite the inaction of elected officials.

According to a poll, 72% support legalizing medical cannabis. Only 57% support legalizing recreational marijuana.