A Forsyth County legislator reintroduced Wednesday a Senate bill that would make it legal to possess up to 3 ounces of marijuana for personal use.
However, Senate Bill 58 would allow individuals to be charged with a Class 1 misdemeanor if they exceed 3 ounces of marijuana.
The bill would go into effect July 1, if signed into law.
A similar bill was introduced in the 2018 session, but was not heard in the Senate Rules and Operations committee.
That version would have allowed a person to legally possess up to 4 ounces of marijuana.
Sen. Paul Lowe, D-Forsyth, and the primary sponsor of both bills, said he has introduced them in an effort “to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana. This is heading in the right direction.”
“There are new legislators with differing outlooks on a lot of legislation being reintroduced, so now let’s see if the legislation gets a different reception.”
Currently, possession of one-half of an ounce or less of a controlled substance is a Class 3 misdemeanor. That is punishable by up to 20 days of active jail time — which typically is suspended — or a requirement of community service.
By contrast, a Class 1 misdemeanor is punishable by up to 120 days of an active sentence.
The bill would exempt up to 3 ounces of marijuana from being considered a controlled substance.
The bills also would raise the weight of marijuana an individual can possess from 1.5 ounces to a pound before it qualifies as a Class 1 felony, which is punishable by an active sentence of up to five months.
Jim O’Neill, district attorney for Forsyth County, said in 2018 that