Alexander said the proposal would not legalize marijuana statewide, but rather offer an option for localities to pass their own legalization.
“The statute is going to be patterned after the way North Carolina legalized liquor after Prohibition," Alexander said. "And if we’re able to get it through, what you would have is a situation where, let’s say Orange County decided that it wanted to liberalize. Well, you could do it either by a vote of the town council, or the county commission, or a petition from the citizens that would create a referendum."
Alexander said any of these three methods would legalize marijuana within their particular jurisdiction. For example, a town council vote would legalize within the town, a county commissioner vote would legalize within the county and the referendum would specify whether it would be legalized at the county or municipal level.
Carrboro Board of Aldermen member Damon Seils said the Town currently has very little authority to do much regarding drug laws.
“But the police department has for some years, actually, already had a practice of de-prioritizing minor marijuana offenses," Seils said. "That was reiterated a couple of years ago when the Orange County Bias Free Policing Coalition released a set of recommendations, and one of those recommendations was to de-prioritize marijuana enforcement."
However, Seils said current state law prevents local governments from creating policies allowing marijuana use.
"It’s just a matter of how the police department prioritizes its resources," Seils said. "We have a small police department, and they have their hands full with more important issues. They have things that they see as much higher priority.”
But while marijuana legalization remains controversial in North Carolina, Alexander and legislators in the General Assembly will be looking for input from the public.
“You’ve got to reach out and let your members of the House and Senate know that it’s time to change our marijuana laws, and that you would like them to support the legislation that is being introduced," Alexander said. "Write them, email them, visit them, do whatever is necessary to let them know that you as voting citizens want the status quo to change.”