North Carolina Senate Passes Medical Marijuana Legalization Bill Through Final Reading, Sending it to House

With overwhelming support, legislation that would legalize medical marijuana has been given approval by the North Carolina Senate.

House Bill 563 passed its third and final reading this evening, officially advancing the measure to the House of Representatives. The vote was 36 to 10. Once approved by the House, it will proceed to Governor Roy Cooper (D), who supports the legislation.

Originally introduced to regulate the hemp industry and prohibit hemp products on school grounds, the bill underwent significant amendments in the Senate Judiciary Committee. These changes included provisions for legalizing medical marijuana, leading to its approval by the full Senate.

The legislation would allow those with a qualifying condition and a physician’s recommendation to possess, use, and purchase medical marijuana. Qualifying conditions include:

  • 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

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 passed a medical marijuana bill with a vote of 36 to 10. Introduced by Senator Bill Rabon and backed by a bipartisan group of 12 cosponsors, the “Compassionate Care Act” aimed to permit patients with debilitating medical conditions, including cancer, epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and post-traumatic stress disorder, to use and possess medical marijuana with a licensed physician’s recommendation. Despite significant bipartisan support in the Senate, the bill did not progress in the House of Representatives.

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