N.C. Senate Approves Bill Legalizing Medical Marijuana

RALEIGH, N.C. — The North Carolina Senate gave initial approval to a bill on Thursday that would legalize medical cannabis.

The “Compassionate Care Act” would legalize marijuana for those suffering from debilitating and often terminal illnesses like cancer, HIV, ALS, and Parkinson’s disease.

Senator Bill Rabon (R-Brunswick) and Micheal Lee (R-New Hanover) sponsored the bill.

Officials say the bill is tailored in a way to allow for the careful regulation of medical marijuana for serious medical conditions as certified in writing by a physician with whom the patient has a pre-existing relationship.

“As a cancer survivor, I know how life-shattering it can be to receive a terminal diagnosis,” Senator Rabon said. “Medical marijuana provides an alternative treatment for those who are trying to improve their quality of life while facing a debilitating illness. This bill does not open the floodgates to recreational marijuana; rather, it puts in place common-sense regulations to ensure that patients with a documented need can access it.”

About the Compassionate Care Act bill:

  • The bill requires patients and designated caregivers to apply for a registration card to get medical cannabis, and they would only be allowed to possess a 30-day supply.
  • It establishes a state commission within the Department of Health and Human Services to manage a system that authorizes licensed suppliers to produce cannabis and cannabis-infused products in production facilities and distribute them through medical cannabis centers (North Carolina would be limited to 10 supplier licenses).
  • Restrictions would be placed on the use and sale of medical cannabis, including safe, child-resistant packaging that is clearly labeled and doesn’t appeal to minors.
  • Facilities will be required to maintain a discreet, professional appearance in line with existing commercial structures or land uses within the immediate area.
  • Patients may not drive, operate a boat, train, or aircraft, or undertake any task that would be negligent or professional malpractice while under the influence of cannabis.
  • The bill also does not require places of employment or education to require on-site medical accommodations for the use of medical cannabis.

Officials say thirty-seven other states and Washington, D.C. have adopted a medical marijuana program.

In North Carolina, officials say polling shows that 82 percent of voters support legalizing medical marijuana, including 75 percent of Republicans and 77 percent of evangelical voters.

“States across the country have made similar attempts to legalize medical marijuana and have been forced back to the drawing board to close loopholes,” said Senator Lee. “We wanted to get this right on the first attempt, which is why we’ve spent months deliberately and transparently developing this legislation. We expect it will be a model for other states to follow.”

Officials say the “Compassionate Care Act” passed with a 35-10 vote.

It is scheduled for a final vote on Monday, June 6.