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N.C. lawmakers propose bill to legalize marijuana

FILE - This Aug. 22, 2019, file photo shows medical marijuana plants during a media tour of the...
FILE - This Aug. 22, 2019, file photo shows medical marijuana plants during a media tour of the Curaleaf medical cannabis cultivation and processing facility in Ravena, N.Y. New Yorkers can now possess and use up to 3 ounces of cannabis under a legalization bill signed Wednesday, March 31, 2021, by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, while sales of recreational-use marijuana won't become legal for an estimated 18 months until the state draws up regulations. (AP Photo/Hans Pennink, File)(Hans Pennink | AP)
Updated: Apr. 22, 2021 at 9:51 AM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - North Carolina lawmakers have introduced a bill to legalize marijuana in the state.

Rep. John Autry, along with House Members Allison Dahle, Pricey Harrison and Zack Hawkins introduced HB 617, a bill to legalize and regulate the sale, possession and use of Cannabis in North Carolina.

“We all know someone or have a constituent that has contacted House Member’s offices for help with a relative or friend being jailed for possession of small amounts of marijuana,” Rep. Harrison said. “We took great care in writing this bill to include items to encourage bipartisan support. This bill will ensure appropriate guidelines and restrictions.”

According to lawmakers, HB 617 specifies controls for the production and distribution of cannabis under a system of licensing, regulation, and taxation. It includes lab testing, potency labeling, secure packaging, restrictions on advertising, and education about responsible use and risks.

It also fosters a responsible industry, whereby businesses will only be allowed to expand if they prioritize diversity, good wages, sustainability, and community investment. It further promotes the participation of individuals most impacted by cannabis prohibition in the legal, regulated industry.

NC lawmakers argue the bill will generate needed revenue, including reinvestment in communities that have been disproportionately impacted by prohibition, for substance abuse treatment and education, and to train more law enforcement officers to detect impaired driving.

“This comprehensive bill also includes reform measures to expunge prior convictions to a certain degree”, said Rep. Dahle.

HB 617 will:

  • • Establish the creation of the Office of Social Equity to conduct Community Reinvestment and
  • Repair, Social Equity, Cannabis Education and Technical Assistance activities.
  • • Makes legal the use, possession, and cultivation of up to 12 plants for persons 21 or older for personal use of Cannabis.
  • Allows regulations for growers, producers/processors, retail outlets, and on-site usage establishments, among others.
  • Establishes a Registration Department.
  • Provides for the collection of State and Local taxes. A windfall for many states after legalization.

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