Lawmakers Mull Marijuana Legalization
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UPDATE: As of August 2020, Senate Bill 58, which increases the amount of marijuana someone can legally carry for personal use and expunges records of those with certain marijuana convictions, is stalled. The bill was introduced on February 14, 2019 with one writer and eight co-sponsors, but since that point, no forward movement has occurred.
In February 2019, Senator Paul Lowe (D-Forsyth) reintroduced a measure in the State Senate which would allow people to possess up to three ounces of cannabis legal for their own personal use. Last year’s version, which lawmakers did not approve, would have allowed up to four ounces. Nevertheless, this latest bill would significantly alter the legal landscape for Raleigh drug possession attorneys.
What is Senate Bill 58?
This measure is something of a compromise. SB 58 enhances the charges for possession of more than three ounces to a Class 1 misdemeanor, punishable by a maximum 120-day jail sentence and a discretionary fine. Furthermore, the bill increases the weight of cannabis a person can carry from 1.5 ounces to one pound before it is considered a Class 1 felony. A conviction on this count could result in imprisonment for up to five months.
Currently, possession of up to 1.5 ounces is a Class 3 misdemeanor, which carries a maximum 20-day jail sentence and a fine of no more than $200. Possession of 1.5 to 16 ounces is a Class 1 felony offense.
SB 58 is a significant departure from current North Carolina law. The Tarheel State has some of the strictest marijuana laws in the country. Recreational marijuana is completely illegal, and medical marijuana is only available to patients with epilepsey. Even then, these patients must use a special grade of marijuana with a low THC and high CBD content.
Would SB 58 Help Individuals Who Have Marijuana Possession Convictions on Their Records?
Maybe. If the prior conviction was for simple possession under three ounces and there were no aggravating circumstances, SB 58 authorizes a Raleigh drug possession attorney to file an expungement petition with the court that handed down the conviction. If the District Attorney and probation officer agree to the petition, or at least do not contest it, the judge will probably grant it.
Many people with marijuana and other convictions experience hardship when looking for a good job, obtaining student aid, finding a good place to live, and in other situations.
Lawmakers may yet relax the marijuana laws in North Carolina. For a free consultation with an experienced Raleigh drug possession attorney, contact Sandman, Finn & Fitzhugh, Attorneys at Law. Fill out the form below or call us at (919) 887-8040.
A new Senate bill allows possession of up to three ounces of marijuana. If you need help with a current case, call our Raleigh drug possession attorneys.