A bill to legalize marijuana for medical use in North Carolina advanced through a second Senate panel this Wednesday, clearing another hurdle for medical marijuana in the state.
Members of the Senate Finance Committee, which voted for the legislation, narrowed their review to fees and revenues collected in the measure.
They include charging cannabis customers to get special ID cards. The state’s 10 pot suppliers also must obtain licenses and send a portion of monthly revenues to state coffers.
An amendment approved by the committee made clear that the program would be self-supporting and not need other state revenues to operate.
The bill, Senate Bill 711 (or, “the NC Compassionate Care Act”) which cleared a judiciary committee last month, would allow patients who have one of several “debilitating medical conditions” like cancer, epilepsy, HIV, and post-traumatic stress disorder to purchase and use marijuana products. The producers, licensed by a new state commission, could open four stores each.
Recent polls show 70% of North Carolina residents support medical marijuana in the state. In prior legislative hearings, veterans and friends and families of cancer patients testified in support of the bill.
Several speakers addressed the committee, some of whom said the state was failing to capture more money from the supplier licenses. Some social conservatives continued to oppose the measure entirely, while others told legislators cannabis access would help the sick ease pain and nausea.
The measure has now received bipartisan approval from two state senate committees. It must go through two more committees before reaching the Senate floor.
North Carolina is one of just 14 states where medical marijuana remains illegal.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.