RALEIGH, N.C. — Debate on the legalization of marijuana in North Carolina for medical purposes returned on Wednesday to the state Senate, where a very similar measure creating the framework for its sale and use passed the full chamber by a wide margin just eight months ago.
The Senate Judiciary Committee debated but did not vote on new legislation that was filed a few weeks ago at the start of the new two-year General Assembly session. Sen. Bill Rabon, a Brunswick County Republican, said he and his fellow colleagues who are bill sponsors wanted to review expected amendments in time for a committee meeting next week.
While the prospects for passage again in the Senate are strong this year, the bill’s future likely will rest in the House, which declined to take up the previous edition of the proposal before going home last summer. Speaker Tim Moore suggested recently that support was possible in his chamber this year for legalizing pot for the treatment of medical conditions, particularly if the regulations involve physicians and tight controls.
Bill supporters pitch the legalization of smoking or consuming cannabis as a way to give relief to people with one of a dozen conditions and from which their doctors say they could benefit. Marijuana for recreational use would remain illegal. Bill critics contend marijuana’s health benefits remain uncertain and its health risks are great.
The introduced bill would create a proposed Medical Cannabis Production Commission that would award licenses to 10 entities that would grow cannabis, process it and sell it. Each licensee could open eight medical cannabis centers.
They could sell up to 30-day supplies of marijuana or cannabis-infused products to patients or their caregivers, who would have to obtain registration cards from the state Department of Health and Human Services. The licensees would have to send 10% of their monthly revenues to the state.