Medical cannabis legalization is on the table again this year in North Carolina, and the issue took a major step forward June 2 when it received the Senate’s blessing.
The legislation will likely face more opposition in the North Carolina House, the news outlet reported, but Sen. Bill Rabon, the bill’s main sponsor, has said that he his proposal would create one of the strictest medical cannabis programs in the country if it becomes law in an effort to rally support in the statehouse.
“We have looked at other states, the good and the bad,” Rabon told his colleagues before Thursday’s vote, according to The Charlotte Observer. “And we have, if not perfected, we have done a better job than anyone so far.”
S.B. 711 would allow the state to license 10 businesses to grow and process medical cannabis, as well as 80 dispensaries to sell it to qualifying patients with a short list of medical conditions, including cancer, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), according to a WRAL.com report.
Doctors would be able to take additional courses to receive certification to prescribe medical cannabis to their patients, the news outlet reported.
Sen. Julie Mayfield, one of the lawmakers who voted against S.B. 711, said she was concerned that the legislation’s proposed regulations would shut small farmers, including North Carolina’s hemp farmers, out of the medical cannabis market, while allowing larger out-of-state corporations to participate, according to The Charlotte Observer.
Mayfield proposed an amendment that she said would allow more small hemp businesses to enter the medical cannabis industry, the news outlet reported, but lawmakers shot it down.
The Senate is scheduled to take its required second vote on S.B. 711 June 6 before the legislation goes to the House for consideration, WRAL.com reported.
Sen. Michael Lee, another one of the bill’s sponsors, urged quick passage, according to The Charlotte Observer, “so that folks in our state can get the relief that they need when they’re suffering from these very serious and in some cases life-threatening diseases.”
S.B. 711 was initially introduced in April 2021 and cleared several Senate committees last summer before lawmakers ultimately decided to postpone a full floor vote until 2022.
That bill is under review in the Senate Rules and Operations Committee.