North Carolina Governor: ‘End the Stigma’

Roy Cooper

North Carolina’s Democrat Governor Roy Cooper has called upon the Republican-dominated state legislature to legalize the possession of marijuana.

Cooper’s call has come after President Joe Biden pardoned thousands of federal offenders with cannabis possession convictions last week.

“Conviction of simple possession can mar people’s records for life and maybe even prevent them from getting a job,” Cooper stated at the end of last week, as cited by Fox News.

“The General Assembly didn’t pass your recommendations on this last session, but I believe they should. North Carolina should take steps to end this stigma,” the Democrat governor added.

He was speaking at a task force meeting on criminal justice and racial equity, which he established in 2020 during the riots after the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

The same year, the task force, which consists of 24 police officers, lawyers, state officials, and civil rights advocates, issued a report urging the state to change the charge for possessing 1.5 ounces of cannabis from a misdemeanor to a civil offense.

However, the GOP-led General Assembly of North Carolina has not taken up the recommendation.

As per the existing state legislation, more than 0.5 ounces of marijuana carries a jail sentence of up to 45 days and $1,000 in fines.

There are no medical use exemptions, and possessing more than 1.5 ounces is a felony.

Gov. Roy Cooper’s decriminalization call has been supported by his Attorney General Josh Stein.

“People should not have a federal criminal record for something that is legal in an increasing number of states,” Stein declared last Thursday.

“Let’s act, and let’s get it right. That means decriminalizing adult use, expunging past convictions for simple possession, and including strong protections for kids, no advertising, state-controlled sales, and putting N.C. farmers first,” he elaborated.

Gov. Roy Cooper also requested that lawyers examine the existing state legislation to figure out whether the state of North Carolina could move to pardon people convicted of marijuana possession.

The state’s Constitution gives the governor almost absolute power to pardon. Democrat Roy Cooper’s term expires in 2025, and he is not eligible for reelection in 2024 due to term limit rules.

“As I often said during my campaign for president, no one should be in jail just for using or possessing marijuana,” President Joe Biden said last week as he announced his federal cannabis pardon.

“Sending people to prison for possessing marijuana has upended too many lives and incarcerated people for conduct that many states no longer prohibit,” he added.

Even though not a single person is presently in prison on federal “simple possession” convictions, Biden made it clear he expected his move would help those pardoned to get jobs or rent homes.