Every year as April 20th rolls around the marijuana smoking subculture celebrates its unofficial holiday, National Weed Day, in the U.S.
Currently Alaska, California, Colorado, Washington, D.C., Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon and Washington have legalized some form of recreational marijuana though federal law still recognizes marijuana as an illegal controlled substance.
Most states that have legalized marijuana allow for possession of up to one ounce of marijuana and the cultivation of up to six plants.
Some states provide for a business market in marijuana production while others only allow for personal growth and consumption.
Currently 28 states, plus Washington D.C. have legal medical marijuana but in the Southeast only Arkansas and Florida allow medical marijuana.
Up until two years ago there were no states in the Southeast that had legal medical marijuana.
Some states have also decriminalized the possession of small amounts of marijuana though no official action was taken to make marijuana possession legal in those states.
Currently two bills in the North Carolina Senate would address medical marijuana, but with both bills stuck in the Senate Rules Committee since before the Easter recess, and the crossover date approaching April 27, the chances of the bills passing this session are going up in smoke.
SB648, filed by Sens. Terry Van Duyn (D-Buncombe) and Valerie Foushee (D-Orange), would open up the use of medical marijuana to treat a number of ailments from cancer and glaucoma to diabetes and Crohn’s disease.
The bill would protect employees from firing and also would protect job seekers from being rejected based solely on them using medical marijuana.
Also, schools would not be able to discriminate based on the information as well.
The bill would also defend people who are in the presence of the medical marijuana from arrest as well as the prescribed user.
Under the bill a user would not be allowed to operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of cannabis and would also not be allowed to smoke it on any “public place” in the state; including correctional facilities, on public transportation or on any school grounds.
The bill also lays out how providers of medical marijuana would do business in the state as well, establishing a plan for the state Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to implement licensing and regulation guidelines to oversee the medical cannabis centers.
SB579, filed by Sen. Joel Ford (D-Mecklenburg), includes nearly verbatim the same language as SB648 but dedicates the bill to Catherine A. Zanga, a Charlotte attorney who died of ovarian cancer in 2014.
Poll: Americans favor legal marijuana
A 2016 Gallup poll found that 60 percent of Americans believe the marijuana should be legalized, and that isn’t just medical marijuana but general recreational use.
The number has risen from 12 percent of people favoring legalization in 1969 to its current 2016 high.
Among 18-34 year olds, there is 77 percent favorability for legalization with 61 percent of the 35-54 age group approving of legalization.
The 55 and older age group is the only group that a majority of respondents did not favor legalization, with 45 percent opposed.
Looking back at 2005 only 35 percent of adults favored legalization, with the 18-34 age group not even having a majority of support for legalization, coming in at 44 percent.