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Medical marijuana: Not in 2011 - but in 2012?

According to the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), an organization that seeks to remove criminal penalties for marijuana possession, the North Carolina legislature had a couple of bills on its plate in 2011: HB 577 and HB 324, both of which sought to change state marijuana law.

But state legislators failed to act, bringing 2011 to a close without any meaningful progress toward the legalization of marijuana for medical use, in an era when 89 percent of those arrested for marijuana are arrested for possession, not sale or manufacture, according to MPP.

House Bill 577: The medical marijuana bill

HB 577 was introduced by a bipartisan group in the state legislature, according to MPP, and, if passed in 2012, would allow people to grow and possess marijuana if they have a doctor's note and register with the health department. Moreover, under HB 577, medical marijuana dispensaries could lawfully operate within North Carolina.

House Bill 324: The bill which would remove the misdemeanor penalty

And when it comes to marijuana possession itself, simple possession is currently a misdemeanor. HB 324 would "downgrade" the penalty of simple possession to an infraction. It would also allow a person to possess up to an ounce of marijuana and risk only a civil fine of $100, rather than time behind bars, depending on the circumstances of the case.

Source: Marijuana Policy Project, "Legislature adjourns without acting on marijuana legislation," 12/16/11

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