N.C. Dems Advocate Legalizing Marijuana On ‘420’

Senate primary candidate Democrat Cheri Beasley. Source: Cheri Beasley Senate campaign

By David Larson
Carolina Journal

On April 20, or “4/20,” which in the world of marijuana smokers is like a national holiday, prominent N.C. Democrats celebrated the day themselves by calling for the legalization of medical and recreational marijuana and for clemency for those currently in prison for marijuana charges. The term “4/20” was popularized by the Grateful Dead as a time some of their fans would smoke together after school.

Cheri Beasley, former state Supreme Court chief justice and likely Democratic nominee for North Carolina’s 2022 U.S. Senate race, said on social media, “Legalizing marijuana in North Carolina would: Help small, NC farms thrive, Strengthen our local economy, Reform our criminal justice system. Legalization just makes sense — and as Senator, I’ll work to get it done.”

Attorney General Josh Stein, another top Democrat, said, “It’s time for NC to move forward on medical cannabis, decriminalization of simple possession, and expungement of criminal records. Let’s act but let’s get it right – including strong protections for kids, no advertising, state controlled sales, and putting NC farmers first.”

The most controversial part of Stein’s statement, judging by the comments under it, was not about legalization but about the “state controlled sales,” with many saying an ABC-type system like the one that exists for liquor in North Carolina would be too restrictive.

Nationally, 68% of Americans support legalization, according to a late 2021 Gallup poll. Republicans were about evenly split, though, with 50% for and 49% against making marijuana legal. In North Carolina, a WRAL/SurveyUSA poll found that 57% of adults in the state wanted recreational marijuana legalized and 72% wanted medical marijuana legalized.

This shift in opinion in recent years has resulted in 19 states legalizing recreational marijuana, including New Jersey starting on April 21. A bill passed in the U.S. House and under consideration in the Senate would decriminalize marijuana at the federal level and allow states to decide how to regulate it.

While there’s no clear sign the Republican-majority legislature plans to act on such a bill for North Carolina when it comes back after the May 17 primaries, there will be one place marijuana will soon be available in the state — the far-western tribal territory, known as the Qualla Boundary, of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.

The EBCI tribal council voted 11-1 in May 2021 to allow medical marijuana within the Qualla Boundary and to decriminalize possession of marijuana, even for recreational use, up to an ounce. Those who are not tribal members will be permitted to obtain a medical marijuana card using the same process as tribal members, but they are asked not to take their “prescriptions” off of EBCI territory since it is still illegal in the rest of North Carolina.  

With calls for legalization increasing, John Locke Foundation CEO Amy Cooke advises caution. “I had a front-row seat to marijuana legalization in Colorado,” Cooke said. “Legalization at the state level requires serious debate and solutions to real problems, like lack of access to financial services and the need for additional law enforcement and extensive physical security ahead of time.”

The physical security, Cooke says, is necessary for dispensaries and growing operations that cannot use banks because their business remains illegal at the federal level. This makes their all-cash business vulnerable to having profits stolen by criminal elements. 

“Know that until marijuana is legal at the federal level, it will continue to be a high-risk business,” Cooke said. “Starting at the federal level makes more sense and would be a much smoother path.”

She also said it can affect the culture, with marijuana use in parks and on the streets becoming a nuisance to other citizens, like families and business owners.

“For instance, despite being against the law, people openly smoke pot in public areas where families congregate because laws aren’t enforced. Pretty soon families stop going to those places. If North Carolinians want to legalize pot, just do so with your eyes wide open.”


  1. Cannabis consumers deserve and demand equal rights and protections under our laws that are currently afforded to the drinkers of far more dangerous and deadly, yet perfectly legal, widely accepted, endlessly advertised and even glorified as an All-American pastime, alcohol.

    Plain and simple!

    Legalize Nationwide Federally Now!

    It’s time for us, the majority of The People to take back control of our national cannabis policy. By voting OUT of office any and all politicians who very publicly and vocally admit to having an anti-cannabis, prohibitionist agenda! Time to vote’em all OUT of office. Period. Plain and simple.

    Politicians who continue to demonize Cannabis, Corrupt Law Enforcement Officials who prefer to ruin peoples lives over Cannabis possession rather than solve real crimes who fund their departments toys and salaries with monies acquired through cannabis home raids, seizures and forfeitures, and so-called “Addiction Specialists” who make their income off of the judicial misfortunes of our citizens who choose cannabis, – Your actions go against The Will of The People and Your Days In Office Are Numbered! Find new careers before you don’t have one.

    The People have spoken! Get on-board with Cannabis Legalization Nationwide, or be left behind and find new careers. Your choice.

    The “War on Cannabis” has been a complete and utter failure. It is the largest component of the broader yet equally unsuccessful “War on Drugs” that has cost our country over a trillion dollars.

    Instead of The United States wasting Billions upon Billions more of our yearly tax dollars fighting a never ending “War on Cannabis”, lets generate Billions of dollars, and improve the deficit instead. Especially now, due to Covid-19. It’s a no brainer.

    The Prohibition of Cannabis has also ruined the lives of many of our loved ones. In numbers greater than any other nation, our loved ones are being sent to jail and are being given permanent criminal records. Especially, if they happen to be of the “wrong” skin color or they happen to be from the “wrong” neighborhood. Which ruin their chances of employment for the rest of their lives, and for what reason?

    Cannabis is much safer to consume than alcohol. Yet do we lock people up for choosing to drink?

    Let’s end this hypocrisy now!

    The government should never attempt to legislate morality by creating victim-less cannabis “crimes” because it simply does not work and costs the taxpayers a fortune.

    Cannabis Legalization Nationwide is an inevitable reality that’s approaching much sooner than prohibitionists think and there is nothing they can do to stop it!

    Legalize Nationwide! Support Each and Every Cannabis Legalization Initiative!

    • A dirty, repugnant and habit-forming pastime. Trying to validate it by pointing to another bad habit not good for anyone is utter nonsense. Try to be better than the “world” by being accountable to yourself and everyone else around you.

      • Cigarettes are a bad habit. Should we make that illegal as well? Drinking sodas and eating French fries are also bad habits. Time to shut down McDonald’s and Coca-Cola? Do we want the government telling us what we can and cannot consume? What about personal responsibilities for our own health so long as it’s not endangering others?

        The issue isn’t a debate over if it’s a healthy habit or a “nasty” one, but it’s more so about abilities and freedoms to be personally responsible or let the government decide for you.

        • Based on how everyone responded letting the government decide for them for the past 2 years I’m surprised anyone actually wants the ability to make choices! We want the government to legalize cannabis but mandate Covid vaccines, such a weird dichotomy.

  2. Cannabis should be avoided, it deadens the senses and is an escape from mental issues that need to be addressed. The same can be said for alcohol. Be better.

    • deadens the senses? Your experiences with cannabis doesn’t exactly align with everyone’s. It may be that way for some and may be a stress relief and a benefit to others. For some it may actually allow them to express themselves and be in touch with their senses more so.

  3. Go ask a farmer how they feel about growing Marijuana. I know three small farmers that grew hemp and stopped due to the idiots that went out to the fields at night and harvested (stole) the crop

    • They probably stopped because the bubble burst and after a year it wasn’t profitable. Hemp was great for farmers for all of one year. Marijuana has the potential to also be a boost for farmers incomes as tobacco nose dives and farmers look for something to replace it.

  4. Being against legalization is = to supporting dealers and criminals maintaining control of all marijuana sales and distribution.

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