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NC House committee to debate medical marijuana on Tuesday. It could become legal this year

The state Senate approved a medical marijuana bill, The Compassionate Care Act, last year and this year.

The Fayetteville Observer

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  • Medical marijuana would be authorized for a limited set of ‘debilitating medical conditions’

  • The state could have as many as 10 suppliers, and each supplier could have as many as eight stores. The stores would be called medical cannabis centers.

  • Lawmakers will discuss medical marijuana on Tuesday, but do not yet plan to vote on the idea.

In a sign that medical marijuana could become legal in North Carolina this year, the state House’s Health Committee will discuss a medical marijuana bill at 10 a.m. Tuesday.

Tuesday’s hearing is described as “for discussion only,” with no vote planned on the issue. A vote could come later.

The legislation is Senate Bill 3, the Compassionate Care Act. It’s sponsored by Republican Sen. Bill Rabon of Brunswick County.

Rabon’s bill passed the Senate 36-10 on March 1. A similar bill passed the Senate last summer but it never got a hearing in the House.

Will the NC House approve medical marijuana this year?

The Republicans who control the state House are divided on the issue, state House Speaker Tim Moore told North Carolina Public Radio in April. “But I would say that it has a better chance of passing this year than in any time in the past,” he said.

The House may alter the legislation from what the Senate approved.

Medical marijuana rules for patients

Under the Senate version of the bill, patients using medical marijuana, or their caregivers, would have to get state-issued cards annually to show they are authorized to purchase it. These cards would cost no more than $50 per year.

Smoking or vaping medical marijuana would be prohibited in a public place, in any place of employment, in a vehicle, or within 1,000 feet of a church, child care facility or school. The penalty for breaking that law would be a fine of up to $25.

These restrictions do not apply to the consumption of cannabis-infused medical marijuana products. The proposed law says those products include tablets, capsules, concentrated liquids or viscous oils, a liquid suspension, a topical preparation, a transdermal preparation, a sublingual preparation, a gelatinous cube or gelatinous rectangular cuboid, a lozenge in a cube or rectangular cuboid shape, a resin or a wax.

Acceptable medical conditions for medical marijuana

Those who would like to listen to or watch a livestream of the meeting can do so by clicking here. (Note that the audio and video of this meeting are unlikely to be available from the legislature online after the meeting concludes.)

The Senate bill says marijuana could be prescribed for patients with the following debilitating medical conditions:

  • Cancer, epilepsy, positive status for HIV, AIDS, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Crohn's disease, sickle cell anemia and Parkinson's disease.

  • Post-traumatic stress disorder.

  • Multiple sclerosis, cachexia or wasting syndrome.

  • Severe or persistent nausea in a person that is related to end-of-life or hospice care, or in someone who is bedridden or homebound because of a condition.

  • A terminal illness when the patient's remaining life expectancy is less than six months, or a condition resulting in the individual receiving hospice care.

  • Any other serious medical condition or its treatment added by the Compassionate Use Advisory Board. This board would have the power to decide which medical conditions in addition to the previously listed ones are applicable for medical marijuana.

Where medical marijuana products would be grown, made and sold

A state Medical Cannabis Commission could license up to 10 suppliers that would grow marijuana, make it into medical marijuana products and sell the products to the public. The state would monitor this with a “seed to sale” tracking system.

Each of the 10 suppliers could have up to eight medical cannabis centers to sell the medical marijuana to the public.

At least one of each supplier’s eight stores would have to be in one of the state’s 40 most economically distressed counties, rated “Tier 1” by the North Carolina Department of Commerce in its annual economic well-being ratings of the state’s 100 counties. Forty are “Tier 2,” and 20 are “Tier 3,” with Tier 3 considered to be in the best economic shape.

Cumberland County is a Tier 1 county.

Sales would be limited to the hours of 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

The medical cannabis sales centers would have to be at least 1,000 feet away from churches, childcare centers, schools, community colleges and public universities.

The only people allowed inside the stores would be medical marijuana patients, their caregivers, people whose jobs require them to go inside the centers, and employees and contractors of the cannabis centers.

It would be illegal to consume the medical marijuana products at the cannabis centers.


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