Medical pot proposal gets bipartisan support in the North Carolina Senate | Health, medicine and fitness

Written by Gary D. Robertson – The Associated Press

RALLY, NC (AP) – Marijuana will be legalized for medical use in North Carolina and purchased through dozens of tightly regulated dispensaries in a procedure that won initial approval Thursday in the Senate.

The legislation, which has garnered strong bipartisan support, could help people who face more than a dozen different “debilitating medical conditions” in which their doctor states that the health benefits of smoking or cannabis use outweigh the risks.

However, the main sponsors of the bill focused on providing relief to patients with terminal illnesses that cause unbearable pain and suffering, while preventing them from having to act illegally.

“It is our duty as legislators to pass legislation that helps people who need our help,” said Brunswick Republican Senator Bill Rapon, a cancer survivor who has worked on the legislation for five years. “It won’t make them ashamed or reluctant to seek help if their doctor recommends it.”

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17 of the 25 Republicans and all Democrats present Thursday cast ballots for the bill, which passed 35-10 and needs one more affirmative vote next week before it heads to the House.

Many House Republicans were skeptical about legalizing cannabis in any form. Parliament Speaker Tim Moore said Thursday he believes medical marijuana should wait until 2023. Legislative leaders are aiming to postpone this year’s working session around July 1.

However, the Senate’s affirmative vote, which included a “yes” from Chamber President Phil Berger, shows how far political and public sentiment has gone in the case of the Bible Belt over medical marijuana. Rapon said polls show strong support for the idea across all population groups, including among evangelical Christians.

The bill made its way Through several committees last summer Before Appearing this week. Senators Heard from enthusiastic speakers They are very ill and say marijuana can ease the pain or help them lead a normal life.

37 states and the District of Columbia allow the medical use of cannabis products, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

“It’s time to act in North Carolina,” said Democratic Senator Willie Nickel of Wake County, who remembers how his father illegally used marijuana three decades ago when he was dying of cancer. Marijuana for recreational use will remain illegal.

Opponents of the bill said that the health benefits of marijuana remain uncertain and that the health risks are significant.

said Senator Jim Borgin, the Harnett County Republican who voted No.

Under the bill, other eligible conditions that could lead to legal access to marijuana include epilepsy, Crohn’s disease, HIV/AIDS, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and post-traumatic stress disorder. An advisory board can add to that list. Doctors will initially have to receive 10 hours of training to provide a prescription for cannabis.

The new Medical Cannabis Production Commission will grant licenses to 10 entities that will grow, process and sell cannabis.

Each licensee can open eight medical cannabis centers throughout the state. They can sell up to a 30-day supply of marijuana or cannabis-infused products to patients or their caregivers, who will have to obtain registration cards from the state Department of Health and Human Services. Licensees will have to send 10% of their monthly revenue back to the state.

People can face felonies if marijuana is sold in cannabis centers or production facilities illegally. Registered patients who smoke pot in public places or near a school or church may face fines of $25.

Senator Julie Mayfield of Buncombe County introduced a floor amendment that would direct the committee to recommend a system that she said would help farmers and retailers in the state participate.

She said the language used in the measure would leave licenses to multi-state firms, leaving small businesses on the sidelines. Republicans used a parliamentary maneuver to block the vote on the amendment. Mayfield was one of the Democrats to vote against the full bill on Thursday.

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