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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.

Several states move forward with ballot initiatives to liberaliz marijuan laws; Mississippi medical marijuana; New Jersey, Arizona, Montana, South Dakota