North Carolina’s legislature is considering a pair of bills that would make it legal to possess up to 4 ounces of marijuana for personal use.
Sen. Paul Lowe (D-Forsyth), the bill’s main sponsor in the upper chamber, told the Winston-Salem Journal that he introduced the legislation with the intent “to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana.”
“This is heading in the right direction,” he added.
Senate Bill 791 and House Bill 994, as they are currently written, would legalize the possession of up to 4 ounces of marijuana for personal use, according to the Journal.
Possession of half an ounce or less of a controlled substance is currently a Class 3 misdemeanor in North Carolina punishable by up to 20 days of in jail or community service.
Forsyth County, N.C., District Attorney Jim O’Neill told the newspaper that the bills must be “thoroughly vetted, and must include and consider the scientific community’s evidence of the damage caused to the developing adolescent brain caused by marijuana smoking.”
O’Neill also said that characterizing “four ounces of marijuana as a user amount would be absurd.”
The bills would raise the threshold for Class 1 felony possession charges from 1.5 ounces of marijuana to 1 pound.
The Journal reports that it is unlikely the bills move past the House Judiciary committee. The laws would go into effect on July 1 if approved by the Republican-controlled General Assembly and signed by Gov. Roy Cooper (D), the newspaper added.
The bills’ introduction comes as many states grapple with new ways to legislate marijuana use.
On Monday, Gallup reported that 64 percent of Americans say smoking marijuana is morally acceptable.