We asked, you answered: North Carolinians share thoughts on legalizing marijuana in NC

NC Marijuana

NC has been on the verge of passing medical marijuana a few times in recent years. Could 2024 be the year? (Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

By Billy Ball

June 3, 2024

Veterans, senior citizens, arthritis sufferers, people with mental illnesses: Many of them spoke up when we asked Cardinal & Pine readers what they think about marijuana in NC. Could 2024 be the year legalization finally gets over the hump?

North Carolina has been on the doorstep of legalizing medical marijuana for several years, and this year is no different.

Lawmakers in the NC General Assembly are expected to reconsider legislation that would clear marijuana as a treatment option in limited cases such as cancer, epilepsy, Crohn’s Disease, Parkinson’s, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Medical research has documented a number of potential benefits of the drug in some cases.

In 24 states, and the District of Columbia, marijuana is legal for recreational and medical purposes, as of April. Another 13 states have legalized it for medical purposes, making NC one of just a handful of states that haven’t cleared the drug for either.

Democratic lawmakers generally support decriminalization and legalization in NC, but Republicans have blocked it. However, medical marijuana has had the support of some notable GOP leaders in recent years, including cancer survivor Bill Rabon, a state senator.

A Meredith College poll found broad, bipartisan support—almost 8 in 10 North Carolinians—for medical marijuana in February. And Marijuana Moment reported in April on the possibility that legalization might be bundled with new hemp regulations this year.

Decriminalizing the drug is another major discussion, because there are people receiving stiff criminal penalties in NC and other states like it for a drug that’s completely legal in some states. Meanwhile, President Biden’s administration is taking steps to reclassify the drug as a less dangerous one.

Recreational marijuana, however, is probably farther down the road in NC.

So, naturally, we wanted to know what our readers think. In May, we asked our newsletter readers to tell us what they think about medical and recreational marijuana. The response was overwhelming, and from North Carolinians with different backgrounds. We heard from veterans, senior citizens, cancer survivors, arthritis sufferers, and people with mental illnesses.

Some were opposed. Most were in favor.

Here’s a sampling of the responses. If people wanted to share their name and what part of North Carolina they’re from, we included that too. Answers have been lightly edited for clarity.

Manette, NC

Please legalize! I have (Rheumatoid Arthritis) and when I got a hold of some, my pain and discomfort were lessened quite a bit.

Eva, Carrboro

I was a kid in the 80’s and 90’s and we smoked a lot for fun. Now I have a daughter that has a psychosis that has required a 2-week hospital stay and months of medication and therapy. It was likely triggered by marijuana and unregulated Delta products here in NC. I don’t believe these things are good for young minds.

Eugenie, NC

I would like to see medicinal marijuana legalized. I take a Delta 9 gel before bed every night. My doctor is the person who suggested that I do so. I suffer from chronic pain in my hips and lower back, and this Delta 9 helps me rest.

Larry, Salisbury

Marijuana saved my life. I have 25 years of (Veterans Affairs) records to prove it and a healthy body to boot, still hurt like hell but am (off) all the hard stuff and have been for years.

I have plenty of urinalysis test(s) from the VA that shows nothing but marijuana in my system per our agreement I would not do any opioids, alcohol or any other drug they want to check me (out) for and, boy, did they. But each test was negative except for the marijuana, I kept my word and they kept their word by still seeing me as a patient. I have to visit my primary doctor on May 29. Sad thing is all these 30 years cost me (is) a small fortune.

Betsy, NC

Make it legal. A change in schedule will at least allow testing. Then levy large taxes on it to go to education and research.

Margaret, High Point

Legalizing marijuana in ANY State is atrocious – except for MEDICAL purposes!!! Does this country not have enough people who are addicted to something – killer cigarettes, pain medication, alcohol, etc.?????

I have no problem with legalizing it for serious medical issues under the control of a doctor!! Don’t tell me people can’t get addicted to marijuana or cause them to go on to stronger drugs, because I know it’s true!!

Jeremy, Charlotte

Yes it should be legal. As an Army veteran, I suffer from (post-traumatic stress disorder). Marijuana helps me fight it and gives me a sense of relief from the trauma I’ve experienced. I pray NC legalize(s) it because I don’t want to feel like I’m doing something wrong.

Karen, Hillsborough

Legalize for both medical and recreational. Much safer buying from dispensaries. Thank you for asking.

Jim, Charlotte

By (blocking) legalized marijuana in NC, (it) puts us behind more progressive states again. Tax revenue from taxes makes this a no brainer. Just like alcohol.

Karin, Kernersville

Please legalize it!!! So much better than alcohol! Have you ever seen a disruptive and obnoxious stoner?? Let adults be adults and choose what they want to partake in!

April, Raleigh

Marijuana does help with many illnesses and would like (to) see it used more for these purposes.

Catherine, Charlotte area

My husband suffers from a condition called Hemi Facial Spasms. He paid $2K a pop for years getting Botox injected into his face. It was effective but over time he lost muscle control on the left side of his face and could not even smile.

We read that marijuana was effective for some neurological conditions. We have never touched drugs in our life and very uneasy about where to find it, but we took the risk. After much research, I learned how to make a tincture which my husband uses under his tongue each morning.

It took only a week and the twitching in his face was significantly reduced. Over the next months the seizures and contortions in his face totally subsided.

Marijuana has absolutely been a miracle drug for him. We tried CBD oil hoping it would have the same effect because it’s legal, but it was not. He is able to smile and have the confidence every person deserves so they can have interact(ions) with others without looking like some kind of freak.

I am in absolute favor of marijuana being accessible and legal to people who need it for medical conditions. If the lawmakers had personal experiences of their own they would not hesitate to make it legal for people that benefit from it. It is truly life-changing for my husband and his entire family.

Anonymous reader, Garner

Legalize it and tax it. Win win. Less people in jail. We have much bigger problems. If not legalized for recreational purposes, at least do it for medicinal reasons. Cancer patients (my husband was one) seizure patients, chronic pain, the list goes on. Since when does majority not rule?

Sally, Winston-Salem

If marijuana classification changes from Class 1 to Class 3, more research will be done to explore medical benefits.

John, NC

Just say NO to MJ. Having lived in Colorado during the years it became legal, it will not be a good thing for this state – the statewide MJ industry will become a huge industry and a political force, growing in strength each year.

Promises will be made of MJ taxes generating large amounts of cash for education, healthcare or whatever – but in reality the taxes are small and never really make a difference to any program. And the illegal trade will not lessen.

Why pay the large taxes if one can get it cheaper from the corner pusher? Edibles and consumables will be a big part of the industry so NC will see the occasional story of children ingesting mistaken candy.

The medicinal properties of pot will be stressed as a good thing – the reality is that any health benefits are in the eye of the user. Oh, and then there’s the stink of burning weed…your entertainment districts and apartment complexes will take on an unmistakable odor that does not smell like “good times”…

Ami, Southport

I’m a 65 year old female and life-long chronic pain sufferer living in NC. I am not a smoker, but would like to see marijuana legalized in all its forms for medical necessity.

For myself, I tried the edible medical marijuana while visiting Arizona and found it did lessen the pain and I didn’t have to take as much pain medication to get through the day.

I did notice and adhere to the no driving rule for myself whenever under the influence of anything – even low doses alter reaction times. Fingers crossed this happens here in NC soon.

Suzanne, Hendersonville

Yes, legalize recreational marijuana. Unlike opioids, crack cocaine, and other drugs, marijuana has not killed anyone or destroyed families. If pot was so bad then why did nature decide to grow it(?) Because it’s safe and has many medical benefits!!

Nancy, Greensboro

I am 70 years old and very positive towards the legalization of marijuana. I am a regular marijuana user to address severe nerve pain incurred from unresolved shingles.

Having used it since 2015, when I lived in MA where it was prescribed to me, I’ve continued to use it while living here in NC for 5 years though I’ve had to either buy it illegally or when I travel to MD or MA to visit family.

I never drive under its influence or go out into public. I exercise cautions similar to the use of alcohol. It was marijuana that allowed me to discontinue the opiates- oxycodone, OxyContin, and tramadol – 3 meds I was prescribed when I was hospitalized for shingles, as well as discontinue gabapentin and other non narcotics.

One final point and that is in (Massachusetts) and (Maryland) there is a hefty tax levied on marijuana. It is my opinion that NC is losing many tax dollars to these states given marijuana’s widespread use here in NC. Widespread use is not a hunch. It is everywhere. I smell it throughout apartment complexes and even walking across parking lots.

I have friends now in their 50s, 60s, and 70s who use it because it helps with a variety of maladies from cancer, through painful arthritis. So yes count me in support of marijuana legalization with restrictions similar to alcohol and tobacco.

K.P., Alamance County

I run a re-entry organization and would like to highlight that people are going back to prison on probation violations for testing positive for weed on mandated drug tests.

What’s wild is that probation officers cannot tell the difference between OTC products like Delta 8, hemp, and “illegal” weed on these tests. The State Crime Lab also can’t tell the difference between weed and hemp. Someone could get caught up in the criminal legal system with devastating impacts for something they legally buy in a shop.

This is one of the devastating consequences of our failure to decriminalize weed.

Rick, Charlotte

Being 70, a lot of my friends are in their mid 60s to upper 70s. I would easily say 80% smoke it but prefer the gummies.

Arthritis, insomnia, joint pain, glaucoma, you name it and they have it. It helps them tremendously. Even though I don’t do it, I’m not opposed to others partaking. And it helped a friend that went through chemo and radiation.

I know more people that use true THC products than people I know that drink alcohol. I hate having to sneak around and buy gummies from someone who knows someone whose cousin regularly visits a relative in one of the states it’s legal.

Stephen, NC

My wife and I just moved to North Carolina from Massachusetts. Massachusetts is one of the tightest, strictest states in the Union. And marijuana is legal for all purposes including recreational.

It has been a huge boon to the economy from both a product sales perspective/tax revenue, but also from an agricultural perspective.

In the years since legalization, I never once heard a news story about anyone getting in an accident or committing crimes because they were under the influence of marijuana. You are correct in inferring that it is safer than tobacco, from a personal perspective. It’s certainly safer than alcohol and not addictive.

This is a no-brainer conversation.

Mark, Shelby

Sounds like you’re describing marijuana of the 60’s and 70’s, certainly not the marijuana of today with the much higher THC level that produces all kinds of physical and mental health issues.


  • Billy Ball

    Billy Ball is Cardinal & Pine's senior community editor. He’s covered local, state and national politics, government, education, criminal justice, the environment and immigration in North Carolina for almost two decades, winning state, regional and national awards for his reporting and commentary.



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