House Bill 617 and Senate Bill 711

House Bill 617 and Senate Bill 711

House Bill 617 is, verbatim from the General Assembly, "[A]n act to legalize and regulate the sale, possession, and use of cannabis in North Carolina: which was filed, humorously enough, on 4/20/2021.

HB 617 states in finding 1, "Cannabis prohibition, like alcohol prohibition before it, has been a wasteful and destructive failure." The findings go on to proclaim a necessity of regulation to "protect consumers." Finding 2 states that the legislature realizes that thousands of jobs and millions of dollars of tax revenue could be created. Finding 3 and highlights the systemic racism that is inherent in the criminalization of cannabis, citing a 2020 American Civil Liberties Union study, which found that black individuals are "six to ten times for likely as white individuals to be arrested for cannabis possession, despite nearly identical use rates." 

HB 617 allows for possession of up to six cannabis plants, two ounces of cannabis, fifteen grams of concentrated cannabis, and the cap--all cannabis products must be less than 2,000mg delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol combined--possessed in one location.

Meanwhile, on April 7, 2021, the NC Senate Filed Senate Bill 711, entitled The North Carolina Compassionate Care Act, which would legalize cannabis for medical use. The NC Senate invokes its right Constitutional right to do so granted by the 10th Amendment.

The NC Compassionate Care Act is strict with qualifications of who receives a medical cannabis card, and outlines a rather scant list of "[D]ebilitating medical conditions," and makes little room for debilitating psychiatric conditions, for which many people seek relief with cannabis.

The NC Compassionate Care Act would refuse medical cannabis cards to anyone convicted of robbery, embezzlement, financial credit card crimes, organized retail theft and a few other crimes, the big one being anyone who has ever been convicted of felony possession, manufacture, or distribution of a Schedule I or Schedule II controlled substance.

A lot going on about cannabis in NC legislature flying under the radar and it is time to, regardless of your politics, write or call your congresspersons because the bills have been written and are languishing in the bureaucracy of legislation, waiting to be debated, and then eventually voted on, if the bills don't die due to inactivity.

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