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North Carolina Senate approves drug pot bill

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The North Carolina Senate this week approved a bill to legalize marijuana, bringing the measure one step closer to heading to the state House of Representatives for consideration. The bill, titled North Carolina’s Compassionate Care Act (Senate bill 3), passed easily with little debate in the Senate on Tuesday by a vote of 36 to 10. The bipartisan bill was introduced Jan. 25 by Republican Sens. Bill Rabone and Michael Lee and Democratic Sen. Paul Lowe.

“The purpose of the bill is to allow the use of strictly regulated medical cannabis, only by those with debilitating diseases,” Rabun said On the Senate floor before Tuesday’s vote.

“The recreational sale or use of marijuana remains illegal under this legislation,” he added.

If signed into law, the bill would certify the medical use of cannabis for patients with one or more qualifying serious medical conditions such as cancer, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and others. . Unlike the more comprehensive medical marijuana programs in many other states, the law does not legalize the use of medical marijuana by patients diagnosed with chronic pain.

Before the bill was approved last week by the Senate Judiciary Committee, the bill’s sponsors emphasized that the measure does not legalize recreational marijuana. Instead, the intent of the legislation “is to make only changes to existing state law that are necessary to protect patients and their physicians from criminal and civil penalties and will not intend to change existing civil and criminal laws for non-medical marijuana use,” Rabon told reporters On the 21st of February.

Under the law, patients with a “debilitating medical condition” would be allowed to use medical marijuana. The bill allows medical cannabis to be smoked and smoked by patients whose doctors have recommended a certain type and dose of medical marijuana. Physicians will be required to review a patient’s ongoing eligibility for the medical marijuana program annually. Smoking medical cannabis in or near public schools and churches would not be legal under the measure.

The bill would require eligible patients and caregivers to obtain a medical marijuana ID card from the state. The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services will be responsible for creating a “secure and confidential electronic database containing information about eligible patients, designated caregivers, and physicians,” according to the text of the action. The bill also created an 11-member advisory committee appointed by the governor and lawmakers to review proposals for new eligible medical conditions.

North Carolina bill establishing an oversight committee

In addition, the legislation creates a Medical Cannabis Production Commission to oversee medical cannabis producers and ensure the production of an adequate supply of medical marijuana for registered patients in the state. The legislation authorizes up to 10 businesses to grow, process, and sell cannabis, and allows each producer to operate up to eight medical marijuana dispensaries. Under the bill, the state would levy a 10% tax on the monthly revenue of each medical cannabis product. The bill also requires regulators to create a tracking system to monitor the production, movement, and sale of hemp products from farms to consumers.

“These suppliers must meet stringent requirements for how their facilities are located and operated, how their hemp is grown and how their inventory is packaged and sold,” Rabone said on the Senate floor. “They should track every product from seed to sale.”

Only one lawmaker, Republican Sen. Jim Borgin, spoke out against the measure on Tuesday, saying that “marijuana is not a drug” and it has not been approved for medical use by the federal government.

“It’s bad for the kids,” Burgen said. “I think this bill creates great government, and I think it could easily be changed to legalize marijuana” for recreational use, he added.

Senate Leader Phil Berger, one of the 16 Republicans who voted in favor of the measure, praised Brabon and the other sponsors of the bill for their work to get consensus among their colleagues before putting the bill up for a vote by the full Senate.

“The lack of debate on the floor is really a reflection of how much work Senator Rabon and other sponsors have done over the past two years in just educating people about what the bill does, answering questions, and tweaking the language,” Berger said. .

Senate Bill 3 still faces one more vote in the North Carolina Senate before heading to the state House of Representatives for consideration. The Republican Speaker of the House, Tim Moore, said the bill has some support in the House, according to a report from the Associated Press. If passed by both houses of the legislature, the bill would head to the desk of Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper, who has indicated his support for legalizing medical marijuana and decriminalizing possession of small amounts of cannabis by adults.

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