Senators Take Bipartisan Action To Legalize Medical Marijuana In North Carolina

A new bill to legalize medical marijuana in North Carolina was filed on Wednesday as the first piece of legislation in the state Senate to kick off the bill-filing process in 2023.

S.B. 3, from GOP Sen. Bill Rabon and his colleagues from the chamber, Sens. Michael Lee, R-New Hanover and Paul Lowe, D-Forsyth is expected to have bipartisan support, reported The Carolina Journal.

What’s In The Bill

Under the Compassionate Care Act, those with conditions like cancer, epilepsy, HIV/AIDS, ALS, sickle cell anemia, Parkinson’s disease, PTSD and multiple sclerosis would qualify to use medical marijuana. However, registered patients will not be allowed to smoke and vape cannabis in public, in a vehicle, or at work, among other places.

Moreover, the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) would be required to grant registry identification cards to those over 21 with debilitating medical conditions.

If enacted into law, the new bill would set up the Medical Cannabis Production Commission, which would be responsible for approving up to 10 medical cannabis supplier licenses, with each being allowed to operate a total of four medical cannabis centers.

Prior Efforts

A measure that sought to legalize cannabis in last year’s legislative session, also from Sen. Rabon, advanced through Senate in June.

“The Compassionate Care Act had great momentum and bipartisan support last session,” Rabon said.

However, North Carolina House Republicans decided not to legalize medical cannabis later that month. House Speaker Tim Moore (R) was a key lawmaker who dismissed the idea of enacting medical cannabis legalization this year.

But Rabon continues to fight for the cause.

“It’s imperative that we continue to fight to ensure that North Carolinians with debilitating illnesses can receive the treatments they deserve,” he said.

Senate Leader Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, who reappointed Rabon to serve as chairman of the Senate Rules and Operations committee recently, said that legalizing marijuana this legislative session would be the “right thing for us to do.”

“Senator Rabon has been the driving force on the medical marijuana bill that passed the Senate last time and did not pass the house,” he continued. “I think time will help and we’ll see whether or not this session is the right time.

Photo: Courtesy of Roberto Valdivia on Unsplash

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