Commentary, News

Election results show NC remains behind the times on marijuana legalization

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In case you missed it, reporter Will Doran of Raleigh’s News & Observer has an informative story yesterday about the rapid progress the cause of marijuana legalization is making across the country and how, sadly, North Carolina seems to remain immune to the trend.

As Doran explains, voters in Mississippi yes Mississippi — voted overwhelmingly last week to approve a state ballot initiative legalizing medical marijuana. Unfortunately, as is the case in so many other areas of public policy, North Carolina elected leaders lag stubbornly behind the times. This is from Doran’s story:

In addition to Mississippi, ballot initiatives are how two other Republican-led southern states, Florida and Arkansas, have also legalized medical marijuana over the last few years.

In North Carolina, the legislature alone can decide what will or won’t appear on the ballot. The two top Republican leaders at the legislature, Sen. Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore, did not respond to questions about whether they would consider any such proposals.

And while a 2019 study by the Pew Research Center found that two-thirds of Americans — including 55% of Republicans — think marijuana should be legal, recent history shows GOP politicians in North Carolina remain skeptical.

The story also explains how a group of North Carolina officials in the Governor’s Task Force for Racial Equity in Criminal Justice discussed the issue this week, but seemed to agree that any progress in our state remains a long way off — this despite the widely understood fact that law enforcement discriminates against people of color in enforcing current marijuana prohibitions.

Although Doran’s story doesn’t mention it, it’s also worth noting that four states (New Jersey, Arizona, Montana and South Dakota) approved ballot measures last week to legalize recreational marijuana. As a result, the scoreboard now shows that 15 states, two territories and Washington, D.C., have legalized marijuana for recreational use, while 34 states and two territories allow medical marijuana.

All of which makes the silly prohibitionist stance of North Carolina officials that much more indefensible. Indeed, the notion that anyone in our state is facing criminal sanctions in 2020 for possessing marijuana for personal use is ridiculous.


  1. Webster Williams

    November 13, 2020 at 3:30 pm

    If I understand correctly, North Carolina has no way for citizens to petition for a referendum. Berger etc. are the only people who can make that so. That the anti-same-sex marriage was passed in the state says volumes about where the legislature’s “mind” is. So, the question is, if North Carolinians follow the same trend as the rest of the nation, how can this situation about our voices being heard be made? We are locked into gerrymandering forever and there is no progress or no way out. How did other states avoid this? Or did they change their laws somehow, to be able to hear from citizens other than churches?

  2. John Thomas

    November 14, 2020 at 6:36 pm

    @Webster Williams

    While most of the states that have re-legalized marijuana did so by voter initiatives, two states have done so through the legislature – Vermont and Illinois. So there is no longer any excuse for not re-legalizing marijuana. What North Carolina lacks is a strong, marijuana reform movement. This will educate the voters and light a fire under the “representatives.”

    It’s clear we are ending the monstrously destructive, fraudulently enacted marijuana prohibition, just as we ended the misguided alcohol prohibition. Canada has already legalized marijuana nationally and Mexico is about to do so any day now.

    If North Carolina doesn’t act soon, they will be viewed as dinosaurs who still persecute their citizens for preferring near harmless marijuana over addictive, very harmful alcohol. – They will also experience a brain-drain as intelligent, freedom-loving people exit the state.

  3. Tim Frazier

    November 15, 2020 at 7:30 am

    Legalize Marijuana North Carolina. Make it legal just like the places I’ve lived before, Vermont Massachusetts, Colorado, and Illinois. I had a stroke and was in Duke Healthcare for 25 days in 2016. I worked for General Electric Healthcare, 20 years.

    Thank you.

  4. Randy L Brissette

    November 15, 2020 at 8:36 am

    Where do I start ? First off NC doesn’t and can’t even properly regulate it’s alcohol laws and distribution. This state is still in the dark ages, on so many levels. To legalize cannabis in the NC would be monumental . Where tobacco use to grow, now can cannabis. It would create more jobs, less alcohol consumption, better health for people not having to take opioids or other pain and psychotropics !
    Also this state’s law enforcement has to lighten up on this issue, as well as the courts. The biggest thing is that this state could produce the best cannabis in America. This state could be a leader ahead of the states, that don’t know what they are doing, like Michigan. The revenue this state would be enough to lower the tax bill that would bring the people a little relief. We the people have to take and make the move to legalize cannabis in the NC, by this time next year !

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