Why This Candidate For NC State House Wants To Legalize Cannabis

Why This Candidate For NC State House Wants To Legalize Cannabis

In the 2020 elections, major political figures in North Carolina like Jenna Wadsworth and G.K. Butterfield are coming out in support of some form of cannabis legalization. However, one Democratic candidate for the North Carolina House of Representatives, Lowell Simon in District 52, has advocated for cannabis reform since the last election cycle in 2018.

Simon, a former public school teacher and current chair of the Moore County NAACP Justice Committee, sees cannabis legalization as a unifying and transformative issue. With t-shirts and billboards promoting his position, Simon has put the issue front and center of his 2020 campaign.

About NC House of Representatives District 52

North Carolina House District 52 covers the southern half of Moore County in southern, central North Carolina. The 52nd is also home to Pinehurst, one of the most prestigious and recognizable golf clubs in the world.

Lowell Simon is running for NC House and he wants to legalize cannabis in NC.
Image courtesy of John D. Patota.

NC 52 has been a Republican stronghold, with Lyndon Johnson being the last Democratic presidential candidate to win the vote in the county in 1964. But Simon believes that that can change.

Why does this House candidate want to legalize cannabis?

As of 2020, the National Organization For the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) has given Simon an “A” rating for his views on cannabis. Simon says that it was initially conversations with some of his former students that led him to decide to throw support behind the issue.

“When we first approached it in 2018, having been a former high school teacher, I had a lot of former students helping on my campaign,” he said. “We know that young people don’t vote, generally speaking. So, I would ask them, ‘What one issue would get you off the couch to go vote?’ And [cannabis] was the one. That was what we kept hearing.”

A billboard shows that Lowell Simon, candidate for NC House, wants to legalize cannabis in the state.
Image courtesy of Simon for NC House.

Simon says that youth support alone wasn’t enough to get so far out in front of the issue. However, as he talked to more people about legalization, he discovered the importance of the issue extended well beyond that one demographic.

“Over the next two-plus years since 2018, as I’ve talked about that issue with lots and lots and lots of people, I have discovered that it is not just a young person’s issue,” he said. “I could be in Pinehurst talking to voters and talking about cannabis and someone from Pinehurst, dressed to the hilt in a $5,000 suit say, ‘Oh yeah, I smoke because I have a bad back.’ Up in rural Moore County, where I was recently, someone came up to me and said, ‘You’re the only Democrat I voted for.’ And I asked why and the response was, ‘As a military member I have PTSD and the only thing that helps me is smoking a joint.’

A Popular Issue

Simon says that the issue of legalization even extends beyond people who use cannabis.

“When you talk to people in minority communities, they know someone who’s been affected,” he said. “They’ll tell you their nephew got caught and he’s got a record now and he can’t get a decent job. Or that their cousin has a record and now can’t get housing. So it indirectly affects people as well. There are just so many issues.”

Ultimately, Simon sees cannabis legalization as an important and potentially unifying issue for all of the constituents of NC District 52, and for North Carolinians as a whole.

“This issue crosses every demographic you can come up with. It crosses age, it crosses gender, it crosses races, it crosses socioeconomic lines, and it crosses religion. I have not found the boundaries of this issue.”

Interested in other candidates supporting cannabis legalization in North Carolina? Want to know more about how CBD vendors are dealing with NC’s hemp laws? Stay tuned to our coverage of the ever-evolving cannabis industry in North Carolina.