Medicinal Marijuana Legislation Advances Once More in The North Carolina Senate!

Less than a year after nearly identical legislation establishing a framework for the sale and consumption of marijuana passed the state Senate by a wide majority, a bill to legalise medical marijuana in North Carolina is making progress in the chamber again.

On Tuesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved the bill that had been reintroduced at the start of the current General Assembly session last month. After various revisions were passed by voice vote, including one to guarantee sales access in rural areas, the motion was approved.

Medical marijuana in North Carolina is dependent on the level of support it receives in the House, even though the new version is expected to pass the entire Senate sometime next week. The House of Representatives did not consider the Senate bill in 2022. Republican House Speaker Tim Moore has lately hinted that passing legislation to legalise medical marijuana with appropriate safeguards could get support.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Rabon (R-Brunswick County), who has led the charge on both of these bills, has argued to his colleagues that allowing people to legally smoke or consume cannabis could help those suffering from chronic pain or debilitating medical conditions.

Rabon, a cancer survivor and the chairman of the Senate Rules Committee, is a top aide to Senate leader Phil Berger, and he is pleased to hear that interest in the House is growing.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, medical cannabis is legal in 37 states and the District of Columbia. The recreational use of marijuana would be forbidden. Democratic Governor Roy Cooper has indicated his willingness to consider decriminalising possession of small amounts of marijuana if a bill were to receive final legislative approval.

Medical marijuana measure advances again in NC Senate committee

For nearly a dozen different incapacitating medical diseases, the measure says legal marijuana usage might occur if a doctor who is knowledgeable on the subject determines the advantages of cannabis exceed the hazards.

Epilepsy, Crohn’s disease, HIV/AIDS, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and PTSD would all fall into this category. Individuals under hospice care or with terminal illnesses are also eligible. That number could grow with the help of a brand-new advisory board.

Ten businesses would be given permission to cultivate, process, and sell cannabis under the auspices of a proposed Medical Cannabis Production Commission.

Each business with a licence might potentially operate up to eight dispensaries for medical marijuana use. Customers would need registration cards from the state Department of Health and Human Services in order to purchase medical marijuana or cannabis-infused items.

There would be a monthly 10% payment due from licensees to the state. There would be penalties for medical marijuana users who smoked in public or near a place of worship.

Medical marijuana measure advances again in NC Senate committee

The bill, which has been opposed by some social conservatives, must still pass through two more Senate committees before it can be debated on the floor.

An opponent cited a statement from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs on Tuesday, which said, “evidence to date does not support cannabis as an effective PTSD treatment.” Furthermore, veterans who have attended past Senate committee hearings have testified that cannabis reduces PTSD symptoms.

The Rev. Mark Creech of the Christian Action League of North Carolina quoted a Louisiana doctor as saying, “Just because a medical condition causes emotional or physical suffering… that’s not a good reason to treat it without sufficient evidence with a psychoactive substance that has significant potential harms.”

Others who favour cannabis’s legalisation are concerned that only 10 licences will be issued in a state with a population of 10.7 million. Local farmers and start-up businesses were also quoted as saying the high costs of navigating the industry’s stringent “seed-to-sale” licencing regime made entry into the sector unrealistic.

Christian Adams, of Raleigh, is working with a cannabis legalisation expert and is interested in acquiring a future licence. “Although legislatively it works out, financially it’s very demanding,” he said. “Most people I know simply do not have the means to do so. This is impossible for them to achieve on their own since they lack the necessary contacts.”


Mohit Sharma

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