It makes for big news these days when a state like North Carolina toys with the idea of legalizing — or, more accurately, decriminalizing — marijuana. It’s news because a majority of states have now ended their prohibition on the plant, and an outsider might think that SB 791, which makes legal up to four ounces of weed, regardless of pedigree, or its cousin, HB 994, have a chance of bringing the Old North State in line.
But I’m here to tell you it’s never going to happen. Not here. Not today.
It’s not because of the bill itself, which makes a lot of sense: creating a quasi-legal amount of pot, in this case up to four ounces, “or one-twentieth of an ounce (avoirdupois) of the 24 extracted resin of marijuana, commonly known as “hashish” is cool, and anything up to a pound is a misdemeanor, after which it becomes a felony. And then we expunge everybody’s weed charges.
The reasons it won’t pass are right there in the language. “Commonly known as hashish”? Forsyth County DA Jim O’Neill, when discussing the bill with the Journal, used the term “marijuana cigarettes” — as in: “[F]our ounces of marijuana has a street value of $1,000 and can be broken down into about 120 marijuana cigarettes.”
It’s like something straight out of Reefer Madness, indicating that most of the people in positions of power in this state fundamentally misunderstand the nature of marijuana and its usage.
But even more important: Nowhere in either bill is the word “tax” used. And in this state of underutilized tobacco farmers, there’s no way marijuana will be legalized unless the marijuana cigarette gets passed around a bit.