The trend of hold-out states taking action on cannabis legalization legislation (say that five times fast) continued today with a North Carolina Senate committee hearing. The panel convened to discuss a very strict medical marijuana proposal put forth in large part by Rules Committee Chairman Bill Rabon, a Brunswick County Republican.
Rabon, a cancer survivor, gave a compassionate and heart-wrenching statement where he detailed the pain of watching loved ones with debilitating diseases suffer as much as they sometimes do. That’s a feeling that many can relate to – even staunch protestors of cannabis. While it’s still uncertain what will happen moving forward, the no-nonsense provisions in the bill are a light at the end of the tunnel for the state’s medical-marijuana program. In a state like N.C., firm regulations are valued by lawmakers and citizens alike, making this particular MMJ bill more likely to pass if it ever makes it to the Senate and the House.
The bill lays out certain conditions that would qualify patients for a medical marijuana card (issued by a physician), such as epilepsy, HIV/AIDS, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and Crohn’s disease among others. But it also leaves room for new conditions to be added by cannabis regulators. A proposed 13-member Medical Cannabis Advisory Board and a nine-member Medical Cannabis Production Commission would form. As many as 10 supplier licenses would be issued, holders of which would be able to open up to eight medical cannabis dispensaries and would have to pay the Department of Health and Human Services 10% of their gross monthly revenues.
The safety provisions in place are particularly stringent, such as the requirement of an online registration sphere where dispensaries and the police can check on a patient’s MMJ status. The aforementioned Medical Cannabis Production Commission would be in place to “ provide a safe, regulated supply of cannabis appropriate for medical use by qualified registry identification cardholders; ensure statewide access to safe and affordable cannabis to registry identification cardholders; establish a system that is well regulated, includes a seed to sale tracking system, and is financially viable for suppliers to ensure the highest quality cannabis and cannabis-infused products for patients; and generate sufficient revenue for the Commission to oversee and for the Department to maintain and operate the system.” Those are some thorough, precautious, and potentially quite advantageous provisions if we’ve ever seen them.
While some Republican lawmakers remain skeptical about medical marijuana, this momentum has been a long time coming in North Carolina. And, as it turns out, some may be open to having their minds changed, such as Sen. Chuck Edwards ( R ), who was quoted by the Associated Press saying “I do have a number of concerns, morally and otherwise, but I’m trying my best to look at this with open eyes, and I might be convinced.” Hopefully, for the sake of those suffering from debilitating conditions, this trend toward legalizing medical cannabis continues in North Carolina. Nothing has been voted on at this point.