North Carolina House to take up medical marijuana bill, following weeks of uncertainty

The North Carolina House will consider a medical marijuana legalization proposal on Tuesday morning, more than 12 weeks after the Senate passed the bill with bipartisan support.

On Wednesday, the “Compassionate Care Act,” the very first bill filed in the N.C. Senate this session, was added to the House’s calendar for 10 a.m. on Tuesday, May 30. It is set for discussion only, meaning no votes will be taken that day.

The bill allows medical marijuana use statewide for people who have cancer, ALS, Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, post-traumatic stress disorder and other ailments. It does not allow recreational use and does not cover ailments such as chronic pain. It also has limited permits and new regulations.

Last year, the bill passed the Senate but died in the House. This made its future this session uncertain, accentuated recently by the lack of movement in the House, where it has not yet been heard in any committees or gotten any votes and previously had not been placed on any calendar.

Earlier this year, House Speaker Tim Moore said that the Senate’s medical marijuana bill had “decent prospects of passage” and that there had been a shift in opinion in the House.

“Last year when we didn’t take it up, it was overwhelmingly opposed by most of the caucus,” Moore said. This year, he said, with many new House members, “attitudes have changed, and I think some folks have had an opportunity, once they were back home and met with folks, to see that there’s some potentially legitimate uses for this,” such as the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder.

Moore said for a bill to pass there would need to be “reasonable controls” and a balance of having enough distributors of marijuana to avoid a monopoly — but at the same time, “not just throwing the door wide open where you have these things literally on every street corner.”

Republicans control both chambers of the General Assembly. Republican Sens. Bill Rabon and Michael Lee, as well as Democratic Sen. Paul Lowe, sponsored the bill, which they say will help North Carolinians who need access to the drug while also protecting public safety through regulations.

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