CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A bill filed in the North Carolina State Senate Wednesday would majorly scale back the penalties for marijuana possession.
“A number of states across the country are moving towards legalization and decriminalization, so why not North Carolina?” said State Senator Mujtaba Mohammed, a sponsor of the bill.
Mohammed, who represents Mecklenburg County's 38th District, said the bill is part of his campaign promise to "build people, not prisons."
“I want our law enforcement to focus on real crimes protecting the community...instead of focusing on minor criminal offenses that are especially targeting people of color, the underprivileged, the poor," Mohammed said.
Right now in North Carolina, possession of half an ounce of marijuana is a Class 1 misdemeanor. The bill increases that misdemeanor amount to 3 ounces.
Also under the current law, it’s a felony to possess one and a half ounces. The bill would increase the felony amount to 16 ounces or one pound.
"This bill really helps us end that aggressive enforcement of marijuana possession which often places thousands of people into the criminal justice system, increases racial bias, exacerbates our economic mobility issues, and the biggest thing is it’s a waste of taxpayer dollars," Mohammed said.
Still, others said relaxing drug laws in North Carolina is only going to lead to more crime.
If the bill passes, it will apply to offenses committed on or after July 1 of this year.