North Carolina voters may decide legalization of medical pot in 2017


    Voters in The Tar Heel State could be deciding in the fall whether or not to legalize medical marijuana. (Photo credit: WLOS staff)

    Voters in The Tar Heel State could be deciding in the fall whether or not to legalize medical marijuana.

    But first, state legislators would have to pass the North Carolina Medical Cannabis Act to put the question of legalization on the ballot in the November election.

    "All the other bills that we've had previously, it's been the legislators that are going to vote on if we get it or not,” Taylon Breeden, with North Carolina NORML, said. “So, what's different about this is the bill is actually trying to decide if the voters can vote on this bill."

    Supporters of the bill held a meeting Thursday at THE BLOCK off biltmore in downtown Asheville to try and gain support.

    "We've been kind of working on trying to get something passed really since early 2016,” Breeden said.

    Breeden said the new tactic was partly devised to help keep some lawmakers from just voting against legalization like in previous years.

    "This makes it where politicians that don't want to really associate their names with medical marijuana can step back for a moment and say 'let the people decide,’” Breeden said. “So, it doesn't affect their coming elections either."

    Meanwhile, Greg Newman, a district attorney in the mountains, said medical marijuana should not go for a vote in North Carolina.

    "There's going to be so much misinformation disseminated throughout the public," Newman said.

    Newman added that legalization of marijuana, whether for medical or medicinal purposes, was not even up for debate.

    "It is an impairing substance," Newman said.

    Newman said marijuana would negatively affect the culture of North Carolina.

    "I think this would cease to be a great community and a great place to be, which it is," Newman said.

    If voters were to approve medical pot, through the referendum, it could be legal as early as December 2018.

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