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Is there growing momentum for medicinal pot in North Carolina?

A sizable minority of American states, plus the District of Columbia, have passed legislation that legalizes -- with stated restrictions -- the use of medical marijuana within their borders. Two states have gone beyond that, with voters in both Colorado and Washington passing initiatives relatively recently that resulted in the legalization of recreational marijuana in those states (again, subject to some restrictions).

All previous attempts inside North Carolina to legalize or materially decriminalize marijuana possession for any reason have failed. State authorities continue to view pot possession harshly, with some first-time offenders facing potential jail terms and other penalties. Subsequent convictions can bring lengthy prison terms and lifelong adverse consequences.

Change could be on the horizon, though, with the North Carolina State Assembly slated to consider two marijuana-related bills next month. One addresses the legalization of all forms of medical marijuana, and the other is more narrowly focused upon medicinal marijuana oil.

The latter bill would seemingly have a better chance of strong bipartisan support and passage into law, given that such oil is devoid of THC (the psychoactive component of cannabis that produces a high in users). Instead, the oil has a heightened level of a chemical that combats seizures, with its proponents stating that it could greatly help reduce symptoms in many people, including children.

There seems to be a clearly growing momentum to legalize the oil across the country, with four states doing so just last month alone.

More generally, marijuana possession and use within the state continues to be a crime, with authorities routinely making arrests and seeking convictions that bring significant penalties to persons who are criminally charged.

A person facing the criminal justice system after being charged with a drug crime has strong need of a knowledgeable and aggressive criminal defense attorney experienced in dealing with prosecutors and mitigating sentencing outcomes.

Source: MSNBC, "The new faces of marijuana," Lisa Crivelli, April 8, 2014

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