April 17, 2013
House Bill 637, which lowers penalties for minor marijuana possession offenses, has been introduced in the North Carolina General Assembly. The measure has been referred to the House Judiciary Subcommittee B, but has yet to be scheduled for a hearing.
HB 637 reduces penalties regarding the possession of up to an ounce of marijuana to a fine-only civil infraction. Those found guilty of possessing between one ounce and one and a half ounce of marijuana would face a Class 3 Misdemeanor.
Under current law, the possession of 1/2 ounce or less of marijuana is a criminal misdemeanor punishable by a fine of $200 and a suspended jail sentence. The possession of 1/2 ounce to 1 ounce of marijuana is punishable by up to 45 days in prison and a $1,000 fine. The possession of over one and a half ounce of marijuana is a felony punishable by up to 8 months in prison and $1,000 fine.
House Bill 637 also allows for those with marijuana convictions to apply to have their conviction expunged, as long as they were not previously convicted of another misdemeanor or felony. You can view the full text of this measure here.
According to survey data published by Public Policy Polling, 56% of North Carolinians believe that marijuana possession should be a fine-only offense.