North Carolina Senate Judiciary Committee Passes Bill to Legalize Medical Marijuana

Legislation that would legalize medical marijuana has been passed by a key committee in North Carolina’s Senate.

North Carolinians suffering from cancer, epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, and other debilitating illnesses would be able to legally purchase, possess and use medical marijuana, pending the adoption of House Bill 563 by state lawmakers.

The state Senate Judiciary Committee voted Wednesday to advance the bill, originally introduced last year to regulate the hemp industry and ban hemp products from school grounds. In an unexpected move, the committee amended the bill to allow physicians to prescribe marijuana for various serious medical conditions.

The amended bill now includes provisions for medical marijuana use for patients with:

  • Acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS)
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Sickle cell anemia
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Cachexia or wasting syndrome
  • Severe or persistent nausea not related to pregnancy, particularly for those in hospice care or bedridden
  • Terminal illnesses with a life expectancy of less than six months

If the measure is passed by the full Senate, it will be sent to the House of Representatives. If passed by the House, it will be sent to Governor Roy Cooper, who supports the move.

According to a Meredith College poll released earlier this year, a large majority of North Carolinians (78%) support the passage of a bill to legalize medical marijuana, while only 18% are opposed.

In March 2023, the North Carolina Senate voted 36 to 10 to pass a medical marijuana bill filed by Senator Bill Rabon and a bipartisan coalition of 12 cosponsors. The “Compassionate Care Act” would have allowed patients with “debilitating medical conditions” such as cancer, epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and post-traumatic stress disorder to possess and consume medical marijuana with a recommendation from a licensed physician. Despite strong bipartisan support in the Senate, the measure failed to advance in the House of Representatives.

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