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Let’s be blunt: As one of just 13 states that have not yet legalized medical marijuana, it’s high time NC steps up to the plate—and that time could be now. The bill that would legalize it just passed through a key committee on Wednesday, June 1, and is expected to pass through the full Senate as soon as Thursday, June 2—moving NC one step close to making the bill into a law.
And the bill’s sponsors are “cautiously optimistic” it will pass the House before going to the governor for final approval, according to Garrett Perdue, a supporter of Senate Bill 711 and the CEO of Root Bioscience.
This wasn’t the first time a bill to legalize marijuana in NC proceeded through the state legislature. A bill to legalize medical marijuana for a select group of people diagnosed with certain medical conditions (called the NC Compassionate Care Act) made great headway in 2021—but it was just one step from a vote in the NC Senate—it stalled and has not come up for a vote again. Until now… so could 2022 be the year?
But before you get too buzzed about it, know that the bill is very, very tightly drawn. Only people diagnosed by a doctor with a “debilitating medical condition”—think cancer, epilepsy, positive HIV or AIDS status, or PTSD—would qualify for a medical marijuana card. So while a majority of NC voters are proponents of medical and recreational marijuana use (Perdue says that some 70% of North Carolinians support it), most won’t be able to legally toke up anytime soon. “This is a good place to start,” says Perdue—and this bill passing could be the first step in rolling out more laws.
And for those following the pending expiration of the famed Farm Bill, NC is also very close to permanently legalizing hemp (and differentiating it from marijuana). Senate Bill 762 passed the Senate unanimously on Tuesday, May 31, followed by passing the House with bipartisan support on Wednesday, June 1. If the Senate concurs on the modifications the House made, the bill will go to Cooper’s desk for approval.
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