North Carolina Senators Approve Medical Marijuana Program

North-Carolina-Skyline

North Carolina Skyline

Medical marijuana won near-unanimous approval in a committee hearing in the Republican-controlled North Carolina General Assembly on Wednesday, in a sign that it could have broad support in a state that has been a holdout on legalization.

While the votes were not officially recorded, it appeared that every Democrat in the Senate judiciary committee voted for it, as did all but two or three Republicans.

Senate Bill 711 would still have to go through other committees before a final vote on the floor of the Senate. Then it would have to repeat the process in the House of Representatives, too.

But supporters are hopeful the idea has an actual chance of passing this year. Medical marijuana is an idea Democrats have supported at the legislature for years, and Republicans now appear to be gradually embracing it as well. Public polling shows that a slim majority of North Carolinians support fully legal marijuana, and nearly 75% support medical marijuana.

Is Medical Marijuana Legal in North Carolina?

Medical Marijuana is not legal yet, however, it recently passed the Senate Judiciary Committee. If it passes three more committees, it will be headed to Senate floor. If it passes the Senate vote, it will have to be signed into law by the Governor.

In this instance, the Governor may veto the law, which can be overridden by a 3/5 vote against. Once it is signed, it becomes a law, and it just has to be published.

So, the short answer is no, medical marijuana is not legal yet, but the passing of the bill on the Senate Judiciary Committee is a great step towards that goal.

When will medical marijuana be legal in North Carolina?

There is no specific date as of now, however, the approval by a bipartisan committee shows how support is slowly but surely growing for the legalization of Medical Marijuana in N.C. on both sides of the political spectrum.

Because of this support, the bill will probably pass and become law, although there is uncertainty about the date when this will happen.

How to get medical marijuana in North Carolina

According to SB711, once the bill passes, in order to purchase medical marijuana, consumers will need to get registry identification cards as qualified patients.

In order to get a card, the individual will have to have a debilitating medical condition for which a physician has issued a written certification.

Qualified patients under 18 years might be able to get a registry identification card only if the following criteria is met:

  • The patient’s physician has explained the potential risks and benefits of the medical use of cannabis and to a parent, guardian or person having legal custody of the patient.
  • The qualified patient’s physician restricts the use of cannabis to a non-inhalation consumption method, and the patient and their caregivers agree to comply with this restriction.
  • A parent, guardian or person having legal custody of the patient consents in writing to (i) allow the qualified patient’s medical use of cannabis, (ii) serve as one of the qualified patient’s designated caregivers, and (iii) control de acquisition of the cannabis, the dosage, and the frequency of the medical use of cannabis by the qualified patient.

What are the qualifying conditions approved for treatment with medical marijuana?

The list of qualifying conditions -as of now- is the following:

  • Cancer
  • Epilepsy
  • Positive status for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).
  • Acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS).
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
  • Crohn’s disease.
  • Sickle cell anemia.
  • Parkinson’s disease.
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder, subject to evidence that an applicant experienced one or more traumatic events. Acceptable evidence shall include, but is not limited to, proof of military service in an active combat zone, that the person was the victim of a violent or sexual crime, or that the person was a first responder. Details of the trauma shall not be required.
  • Multiple sclerosis.
  • Cachexia or wasting syndrome.
  • Severe or persistent nausea in a person who is not pregnant that is related to end-of-life or hospice care, or who is bedridden or homebound because of a condition.
  • Any other serious medical condition or its treatment added by the Medical Cannabis Advisory Board, as provided for in G.S. 90-113.116.
  • Other debilitating medical conditions of the same kind or class as, or comparable to, those enumerated above.

This list may be subject to change in the future.

North Carolina medical marijuana establishment license

SB711 establishes only one type of establishment license, called “medical cannabis supplier license”.

A supplier will be able to cultivate cannabis, as well as to own and operate one or more medical cannabis centers, and own and operate one or more production facilities.

Without this license, no person shall be able to establish or operate a medical cannabis center for the sale of cannabis-infused products, and paraphernalia relating to the administration of cannabis to qualified patients and designated caregivers.

Licensing requirements

According to SB711, an applicant for a license must submit the required information on application forms provided by the Department. The application form shall require all of the following:

  • The applicant’s name and any legal names the applicant will use for facilities where the applicant will produce cannabis and for each medical cannabis center and production facility the applicant proposes to operate.
  • The address of each property, location, or premises the applicant will use to produce cannabis, of each production facility the applicant will use to process cannabis or produce cannabis-infused products, and of each medical cannabis center the applicant will use to dispense or distribute cannabis.
  • Documentation demonstrating that the applicant possesses:
    • Requisite expertise in controlled environment agriculture and at least five years of experience in cultivation, production, extraction, product development, quality control, and inventory management of medical cannabis in a state-licensed medical or adult use cannabis operation meeting standards that the Commission shall specify by rule.
    • Significant technical and technological ability to cultivate, produce, and distribute medical cannabis in a manner that meets industry standards for production consistency and safe handling.
    • Relevant experience in securing cannabis production, testing, resources, transportation, and personnel to operate as a safe and secure supplier in compliance with all state regulations in which the applicant has prior experience.
  • Proposed operating procedures for each production facility, medical cannabis center, and component of the applicant’s proposed medical cannabis supply system, including record keeping and security requirements as the Commission shall specify by rule.
  • The name, address, and date of birth of each principal officer and board member of the supplier.
    The name, address, and date of birth of each employee of the supplier. For first-year licensees, a nonrefundable license fee in the amount of fifty thousand dollars ($50,000) plus five thousand dollars ($5,000) for each production facility or medical cannabis center the applicant proposes to operate under the license.
  • For licensees seeking license renewal, a nonrefundable renewal fee in an amount not less than ten thousand dollars ($10,000) plus one thousand dollars ($1,000) for each production facility or medical cannabis center the licensee operates under the license as specified in rules adopted by the Commission pursuant to G.S. 90-113.122 and annual audited financial statements audited by an independent certified public accountant.
  • Proof the applicant has been a State resident for at least two years and will be the majority owner of each medical cannabis center and production facility the applicant proposes to operate. The applicant may include nonresident partners with demonstrated ownership and operation experience in the cultivation, production, extraction, product development, quality control, and inventory management of cannabis products in a state-licensed medical or adult use cannabis operation and shall provide proof of state residency for any nonresident partner of the applicant.
  • The name, address, and date of birth of any individual owning more than five percent (5%) of the medical cannabis center and production facility the licensee operates.
  • Proof in a manner and amount as the Commission shall specify by rule that the applicant has sufficient liquid and nonliquid assets to operate as a supplier for two years as a part of the medical cannabis supply system established by this Article.
  • Any other information the Department considers necessary to ensure compliance with the terms of this Article.

As the bill is still going through committees, these requirements may change with time.

Marijuana legalization is occurring at a rapid pace, so if you want to keep yourself updated on what’s happening in states like South Dakota, Nevada or New York, don’t forget to check out our Marijuana Legalization Map where you can browse the current status of laws in every state in the United States and see all our posts on each of them.