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Could North Carolina marijuana laws vary by locality next year?

Laws regarding marijuana use for medicinal and recreational purposes vary significantly among states. North Carolina is certainly not at the forefront of marijuana legalization. Currently, medical marijuana is legal only for people diagnosed with epilepsy, and then with a number of restrictions.

Some state lawmakers want to broaden our state's medical marijuana laws, and they intend to begin that process in the new year. Rep. Kelly Alexander, who represents Mecklenburg in the General Assembly, calls the current laws "draconian." He notes the mounting evidence that marijuana helps "alleviate pain and suffering in a number of conditions."

One proposal that lawmakers will consider, however, could carry some complications. It would allow individual localities to make their own laws regarding medical marijuana. Rep. Alexander says that under the proposal, the matter could be decided by voters via referendum or petition or by county commissioners or town council members. He compares it to "the way North Carolina legalized liquor after Prohibition,"

One alderman in Orange County, however, says that under state law, local governments don't have the authority to enact their own regulations regarding marijuana. He notes that their local police have been "de-prioritizing minor marijuana offenses" for some time.

If municipalities throughout the state enact their own regulations involving medical marijuana, it remains to be seen how that will impact those who may purchase it legally in one city or county and take it home to another one where it may not be legal.

In the meantime, even if authorities in some parts of our state say they aren't placing a lot of resources into apprehending and prosecuting people with small quantities of the drug, it's essential to remember that for the most part, it's still illegal. If you're facing marijuana-related charges, you need to take them seriously and seek legal guidance.

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