Will Medical Marijuana Pass Muster In North Carolina This Year?

A recent poll indicates public support for legalising medical marijuana in North Carolina remains strong.

Medical marijuana is legal in 37 US states, three of its territories and the District of Columbia. North Carolina isn’t among them. There have been various legislative attempts to get it over the line, but all have failed so far. But perhaps 2023 will see success. There’s certainly no lack of support among voters for it.

In a poll carried out by Meredith College from February 3-7,  close to three-quarters of respondents (73%) favored legalizing medical marijuana, with just 15.1% saying they didn’t. The remainder were unsure. There were majorities in every demographic group.

“There may be enough new members in the legislature to get the legalization of medical marijuana across the finish line in 2023,” said Meredith Poll Director David McLennan. “It appeared like a few, older members of the legislature had blocked medical marijuana legalization in the past.”

Late last month, Senator Bill Rabon filed the NC Compassionate Care Act (SB3), which would legalize medical marijuana. A similar bill was previously filed, and while it  passed the Senate by a vote of 36-7 last year, it died in the House Rules committee.

The North Carolina Compassionate Care Act would  provide for the sale of cannabis and cannabis-infused products to qualified patients with a debilitating medical condition through a tightly regulated system. As things stand, a “debilitating medical condition” would include a fairly wide range of conditions; among them:

  • cancer
  • epilepsy
  • HIV and AIDS
  • amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
  • Crohn’s disease
  • sickle cell anaemia
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • PTSD
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Terminal illness where life expectancy is less than 6 months

Physicians would be required to complete a 10 hour course about prescribing medical cannabis before issuing a written certification, followed by a 3 hour supplemental course. Qualifying patients would be issued a registry identification card and would be protected from arrest, prosecution, or penalty for the possession or purchase of an adequate supply of cannabis for medical use.

Under SB3, up to 10 medical cannabis supplier licenses could be issued in North Carolina, with each supplier allowed to operate no more than eight medical cannabis centers.

A Medical Cannabis Production Commission would oversee the issuing, suspension and revocation of supplier licenses, and be responsible for establishing a seed-to-sale tracking system.

There are a number of other aspects to SB3, a summary of which can be found here.

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