Raleigh, NC: Six out of ten North Carolina voters say that police and prosecutors should deprioritize marijuana offenses, and only about one out of three believe that possessing the plant should remain a criminal offense, according to a just-released Public Policy Polling survey of 611 adults.
Sixty percent of respondents said that police and prosecutors should make the enforcement of marijuana possession offenses a "low priority." Only 30 percent of those polled believed that cannabis enforcement should be a "high priority."
Further, only 35 percent of state voters said that possessing "small amounts of marijuana ... should remain a criminal offense." By contrast, a majority of respondents - 56 percent - said that the penalty for cannabis possession ought to be a fine only. Among those respondents under the age of 65, over 60 percent supported treating marijuana possession as a non-criminal offense.
The poll also surveyed voters regarding their views on how cannabis should be distributed to adults if it were legalized. Fifty-eight percent of respondents said that it should be "sold in state-owned stores the way liquor is." Only 19 percent of voters endorsed the retail sale of cannabis in private establishments.
Under present law, minor marijuana possession is classified as a Class 3 criminal misdemeanor, punishable by a suspended sentence and a $200 fine.