North Carolina: 6 years, 200 committees: Cape Fear senators continue to push medical cannabis bill

200 committees!

Port City Daily reports

After a medical marijuana bill stalled in the House last summer, its legislative sponsors have brought it back to the table.

Sens. Michael Lee (R-New Hanover), Bill Rabon (R-Brunswick) and Paul Lowe (D-Forsyth) reintroduced the Compassionate Care Act, aimed to legalize cannabis use for medicinal purposes. They presented it to the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday as substantially the same version as last year.

Senate Bill 3 was filed Jan. 27 and the sponsors said a version of its legislation has been coming before the General Assembly for at least two years, been crafted over the last six years, and has faced feedback from nearly 200 committees.

A handful of audience members from the public spoke about the bill this week, evenly split with those for and against its passage.

“Bill 3 is to make only changes to existing state law that are necessary to protect patients and their doctors from criminal and civil penalties,” Sen. Rabon told the committee Wednesday. “And it would not intend to change current civil and criminal laws governing the use of marijuana for non-medical purposes.”

According to the legislation, 39 states plus Washington D.C. have removed state-level criminal penalties for the medical use, cultivation and distribution of cannabis.

If signed into law, the bill would allow for qualifying physicians to write prescriptions to patients for a 30-day supply of marijuana. Specific illnesses considered for a prescription include cancer, epilepsy, HIV, AIDS, ALS, Crohn’s disease, sickle cell anemia, Parkinson’s, PTSD, Multiple sclerosis, wasting syndrome, and severe or persistent nausea. Also covered are terminal illnesses where life expectancy is less than six months and conditions resulting in hospice care.

“I have heard residents of North Carolina who suffer from chronic pain and don’t like to have to rely on prescription drugs have asked for access to medical marijuana as an alternative,” Sen. Natasha Marcus (D-Mecklenburg) said. “This version doesn’t include that.”

Rabon said the sponsors have considered adding chronic pain to the list, and there will likely be additional amendments as the legislation works its way through more committees before it reaches its first vote.

The Compassionate Use Advisory Board — comprising 11 members appointed by the governor to include doctors, pharmacists, research scientists, a registered cardholder and a parent of a minor qualified patient — has the discretion to add or remove conditions over time, Rabon added.

6 years, 200 committees: Cape Fear senators continue to push medical cannabis bill

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