North Carolina Senate Votes to Legalize Medical Marijuana

North Carolina’s full Senate has given initial approval to legislation that would make medical marijuana legal.

y a vote of 33 to 9, the Senate has passed House Bill 563 through its second reading. The measure will receive a third and final reading on Monday, with expected passage sending it to the House of Representatives.

Originally introduced to regulate the hemp industry and ban hemp products from school grounds, the Senate Judiciary Committee amended the bill to include medical marijuana provisions.

The amended bill 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

If the measure is passed through the Senate’s third reading and given approval 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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