A History of North Carolina Cannabis Legislation (Living and Dead)

For even longer than NORML has existed in North Carolina, legislators have been pushing to pass some form of legislation to make cannabis accessible. Even though the state is technically decriminalized (there is no mandatory jail time for possession under 1.5 ounces), there has been little progress made towards providing safe access to medical patients or allowing farmers to cultivate industrial hemp.

NORML of North Carolina has a goal to push the legislators in Raleigh to pass bills that incrementally move the state closer to full legalization of the plant. In the mean time, here is a run down of the bills we’ve hung our hopes on over the years. Expect a few more in this year’s short session of the General Assembly.

* House Bills with an asterisk are still alive.

NC Medical Cannabis Act (there have been three attempts)
2009 – HB 1380 dies in the the Health Committee without vote
2011 – HB 577 dies in the Rules Committee without vote.
2013 – HB 84 is discussed in Rules Committee but is infamously killed with a disfavorable ruling due to its annoying popularity.

* Marijuana Legislative Research Commission
2013 – HB 941 is still alive and currently parked in the Rules Committee. If passed, it would require funding and qualified staffing to perform the required research.

* Industrial hemp commission
2006 – S1570 This bill to study the benefits of industrial hemp cultivation was passed but never funded or authorized.

* Expunction of Marijuana Convictions
2013 – HB 637 is still alive and currently in limbo. This bill was referred to Judiciary Subcommittee B on 04/10/2013

De-criminalization of small amounts of marijuana
2011 – HB 324 died in Rules Committee without vote


Perhaps the next bill will capture the legislators’ public’s attention enough to make new laws. Today the North Carolina media is riding the wave of the benefits of CBD – a non-psychoactive chemical found in both marijuana and industrial hemp. This popularity was created by a CNN documentary that showcased its anecdotal efficacy in treating severe forms of epilepsy.

North Carolina is currently controlled by a strongly conservative legislature, so the people’s powers of persuasion must hinge on talking points that resonate with those in power. We have much rational and charismatic work to do requiring great patience.

Until then, we ask that if you do not agree with the laws, do your part to change them. Speak openly with your friends and family about marijuana and industrial hemp. Listen to their concerns. Do your part to feed the statewide dialogue.

And, we sincerely ask that you consider volunteering with NORML or donating to support its efforts today.


The difference between what we do and what we are capable of doing would suffice to solve most of the world’s problems.” ~Mahatma Gandhi

4 thoughts on “A History of North Carolina Cannabis Legislation (Living and Dead)

  1. I am a huge advocate of decimalizing marijuana, but what about paraphernalia? I don’t understand why that is a bigger crime than some drugs. Is anything being done about that?

    1. The fact that paraphernalia charges are often harsher than possession itself is bizarre. I don’t understand the original rationale, but i also think all the marijuana prohibition laws are ill advised. NC NORML is a team effort – the larger the team, the more of a chance there is something can be done about it. – Jon

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