Ask your state legislators to embrace reform in 2021.
The North Carolina Task Force for Racial Equity in Criminal Justice has recognized that cannabis policy reform is essential to racial justice. It is recommending reducing the penalty for possessing up to 1.5 ounces of cannabis to a civil fine and expunging past convictions. It also called for a study of legalization.
Let your state lawmakers know you want them to heed this call when they reconvene next year.
The task force includes Attorney General Josh Stein, who explained, “White and Black North Carolinians use marijuana at similar rates, yet Black people are disproportionately arrested and sentenced. Additionally, it is time for North Carolina to start having real conversations about a safe, measured, public health approach to potentially legalizing marijuana.”
Under North Carolina law, possession of up to a half ounce of cannabis is a misdemeanor that carries a fine of up to $200. Possession of greater amounts up to 1.5 ounces can result in up to 45 days in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.
Criminal convictions can derail lives, making it difficult to get employment, housing, professional licenses, and an education. The racially disparate enforcement of cannabis laws means that Black North Carolinians are disproportionately likely to have to face these harsh consequences for using a substance that is safer than alcohol.
Let your lawmakers know it’s past time North Carolina stop marking cannabis users with a scarlet letter. Then, spread the word so that others can raise their voices for justice.