During the N.C. General Assembly’s third extra session of the year, state Rep. Kelly Alexander, Jr. (D-107, Mecklenburg) is offering insight on cannabis reform progress via social media and encouraging citizens to reach out to his fellow policy makers about joining the newly formed Cannabis Caucus.
Here’s one example, from his @TheNCRep Twitter account:
The momentum is building to bring NC in line with the majority of states that have reformed their marijuana laws. Want to help? Contact your House & Senate members and ask them to support local option adult use medical marijuana legislation. Ask them to join the Cannibis Caucus.— Kelly Alexander Jr (@TheNCRep) November 28, 2018
Details from the Facebook Live Cannabis Update
On Nov. 30, Alexander posted a Facebook Live video with details on the progress of potential cannabis reform legislation that could be filed in the N.C. General Assembly’s long session.
In the video update, Alexander says the work of the N.C. General Assembly’s Cannabis Caucus is ongoing and that he’s not receiving the same amount of “push back” as he has in the past.
[Watch the video here. Skip to the 1:15 minute mark for Alexander’s cannabis comments.]
In the video, Alexander also outlines what he believes should happen in the NCGA’s long session. The biannual session begins in January.
“I’ve had some conversations with some people across the aisle — in the GOP column — about it,” he says in the video. “I’m not getting the kind of push back that we got in the last session.”
Carolina Cannabis News asked the N.C. GOP to comment and will update this story if they do.
“I’ve also had some informal conversations with members of the governor’s staff about it,” Alexander continued.
The office of Gov. Roy Copper (D) did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Cooper, previously the state’s Attorney General, has remained tight lipped when it comes to cannabis.
“Generally speaking, the environment going into the 2019 session for some positive change in our marijuana laws is good,” Alexander says in the video, adding, “But don’t stop reaching out to the members of the legislature that you know, insisting that they consider some changes in the law — seriously, and that we don’t just have some show hearings; that we have some serious legislative hearings. And, because what we need to do this time is to get the legislation onto the floor for a full floor debate and a clean up or down vote.”
He says, “This time we’re talking about adult-use, local option, medical legislation.” (Like the ABC-store model for liquor.)
That means, should such legislation pass, the availability of medical cannabis could be left up to county commissions in North Carolina, as is the case for alcohol sales.
As we reported last week, it seems likely there will be multiple cannabis reform bills filed in the NCGA in the New Year.
Alexander says to expect the first of his bills – he’s working on several, one to modernize expungement law and another focused on decriminalization – to be filed in late January or early February. He said he’s also working on legislation that would allow for a local option similar to the state’s ABC laws.
It’s also likely that bills will be filed to help those participating in the N.C. Industrial Hemp Pilot Program with their banking woes.
“… the environment going into the 2019 session for some positive change in our marijuana laws is good.” – Alexander
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Shout out to Chris Eastwood, Todd Stimson and Kelly Helms for sharing N.C. state Rep. Kelly Alexander’s Facebook Live video this week because we almost missed it and, with only a few hundred views when we first saw it, apparently most of you did, too.
We, the journalists at Carolina Cannabis News, are still getting used to this space — pssst today is our three-month anniversary — and finding our flow, and now that we know Rep. Alexander is doing these “Weekly Konversations with Kelly” updates videos we’ll monitor his page more closely.
We could use your help watchdogging the social media accounts of Carolina cannabis key players since there are only a couple of us focused on the NCGA while there are 120 state representatives in the N.C. General Assembly alone. An added challenge: Like Alexander, many politicians have multiple social media accounts and even duplicate Facebook pages.
Whether you’re in North or South Carolina, If you’re talking to your representatives and they offer insight into their thinking or plans on cannabis reform, or if you see them post cannabis-related information on social media, we’d love to hear about it.
In fact, contact us anytime with story tips, event listings and job postings. We’d also love to hear about you and how Carolina Cannabis News can best serve the Carolina cannabis community.
We are interested in your cannabis-focused editorials, book reviews and writing about your company, too. So be in touch.
And don’t forget to tip your journalists — we are 100 percent independent and working hard to cover the end of prohibition in the Carolinas for you!
Don’t expect new cannabis legislation in 2018
The NCGA long session begins in early January, but, during an interview with Carolina Cannabis News last week, Alexander said he expected cannabis reform bills to begin showing up in the House of Representatives — and potentially the Senate, too — in late January or early February.
Alexander isn’t the only legislator pushing for cannabis reform in North Carolina, but he may be the most outspoken of the legislators, at least in recent history.
The General Assembly is in session now, a unusual occurrence since the current session is an extension of the third extra session for 2018, a session originally intended to address the need for Hurricane Florence relief.
The third extra session now appears to be primarily focused on voter I.D. legislation. That legislation has already passed the Senate and is expected to be taken up by the House of Representatives tonight, according to the Associated Press.
Alexander’s social media accounts have been less active this week as the business of the NCGA has picked up. (He also posts as @TheNCRep on Instagram.) We will report back if he offers any more cannabis policy updates.
[Above is the most recent polling data from Elon University, circa April 2017. It is anticipated that the school’s next biannual poll — usually released during NCGA long sessions, will also include questions about cannabis reform in North Carolina.]
BY Rhiannon Fionn
Editor & Publisher
Rhiannon Fionn is an award-winning journalist based in Charlotte, N.C.
[Header image by Grant Baldwin. And, yes, Rep. Alexander is wearing a golden cannabis leaf. This photo was taken during his August Medical Cannabis Town Hall in Charlotte. Check out the photo gallery from that event here where we encourage you to ‘steal these pictures’.]