North Carolina Cannabis Bill Is See A Push From State Politicians
The Senate committee this past Wednesday started to make moves on a piece of cannabis legislation. This bill would legalize medical marijuana as it’s been amended and is awaiting to take the stage for approval by the panel at a later date. An alternate version of the bill, which Rules Committee Chairman Bill Rabon who is the sponsor was adopted in a voice vote by the Judiciary Committee.
With this bill patients would be able to access medical marijuana if they have a “debilitating medical condition”. For instance such as cancer, epilepsy, HIV/AIDS, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis. Those who oversee the market would have the power to add further qualifying conditions.
Rabon, who has beaten cancer, spoke and said in his opening words that “there’s nothing less compassionate on this Earth than to watch a person you love suffering when there’s something that can ameliorate at least that suffering.”
“I know how rough it is to go through chemo. I know how bad it is to wake up every day and think that it may be your last day on Earth,” he stated. “It’s a personal thing with me. I don’t see the stigma that some people do.”
“I think it is time to bring this forward,” he continued. “I’m going to see it through as best I can. I owe it to my fellow man.”
Under a sub amendment approved by the committee, a 13-member Medical Cannabis Advisory Board would be able to “review petitions to add a new debilitating medical condition and have the power to add a new debilitating medical condition,” according to a summary.
The Next Step For Cannabis Legislation In North Carolina
Separately, a nine-member Medical Cannabis Production Commission would be established to “provide a safe, regulated supply of cannabis appropriate for medical use by qualified registry identification cardholders; ensure statewide access to safe and affordable cannabis to registry identification cardholders; establish a system that is well regulated, includes a seed to sale tracking system, and is financially viable for suppliers to ensure the highest quality cannabis and cannabis-infused products for patients; and generate sufficient revenue for the Commission to oversee and for the Department to maintain and operate the system.”
The bill would further create a North Carolina Cannabis Research Program “to conduct objective, scientific research regarding the administration of cannabis or cannabis-infused products as part of medical treatment.”
Because the panel accepted the substitute, there couldn’t be a vote on the full proposal at the same meeting under Senate rules. If ultimately approved by Judiciary, it must also still move through at least three more panels before reaching the floor and then potentially heading to the House of Representatives.
The bill has also been sent to the Senate Finance, Health Care and Rules and Operations Committees. A bulk of North Carolina adults are for legalizing marijuana for recreational use. As well others believe it should be legal for medical reasons. This is according to a poll released in February.
What Will Happen Next For North Carolina Cannabis Legislation
It’s probable that lawmakers could see further moves on various cannabis-related bills in 2021. A separate medical cannabis bill, adult-use marijuana legalization measures. I addition to several other pieces of cannabis decriminalization legislation have also been introduced in recent months. Although they do not currently have bipartisan cosponsorships and would likely encounter many obstacles in the GOP-controlled legislature.
Some advocates have their disbelief about cannabis reform being enacted in North Carolina this session. Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger recently noticed that opinions are shifting when it comes to marijuana in the state, and he said that Rabon specifically “for a long time has looked at the issue.”
“I do sense that public opinion is changing on marijuana—both medical and recreational,” Rabon said previously. “I don’t know where the members of the General Assembly are at this time in terms of support for the bill, but it’s something we’ll look at and we’ll see how things move along.”
Final Thoughts On Cannabis Legislation In North Carolina
Neighboring Virginia became the first state in the south to legalize marijuana for recreational use in April. The sponsor of a South Carolina medical cannabis legalization bill said he’s received assurances from a top Senate leader. To which his measure will be taken up as the first order of business at the beginning of next year.
A task force convened by North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper backed decriminalization as part of a series of policy recommendations on racial equity. The group also said prior cannabis convictions should be expunged. As well as the state should consider whether to more broadly legalize marijuana.
With the current laws in place, holding more up to 1.5 ounces of cannabis is a class 1 misdemeanor. This would be punishable by up to 45 days imprisonment and a $200 fine. Back in 2019, there were 3,422 kinds of charges and 1,909 convictions. This made for over 60% percent of those convicted being nonwhite.
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