The North Carolina Senate Health Care Committee became the third Senate panel to approve a medical cannabis legalization bill Aug. 26, according to an AP News report.
The Judiciary Committee approved the legislation June 30, then passed the bill again Aug. 24 after a second review, where lawmakers addressed an amendment with changes requested by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.
The legislation cleared the Senate Finance Committee July 21.
Senate Bill 711, called the NC Compassionate Care Act, would allow patients with qualifying conditions, including cancer, epilepsy and HIV, to access cannabis products, and would authorize a newly created state commission to license 10 medical cannabis suppliers, which could open up to four dispensaries.
The Health Care Committee approved an amendment to the legislation that increases the amount of a prescribing physician’s required training from three to 10 hours, AP News reported.
The bill must pass through one more committee, the Senate Rules Committee, and then could go to the Senate floor as soon as this week, although some lawmakers have expressed concerns that the legislation could lead to adult-use legalization in the future.
“The purpose of this bill is there are people who want legalization of marijuana, and this is their first step,” Sen. Ralph Hise (R-Mitchell) told WNCN. “I think they use these people who are suffering from these serious diseases to further their agenda.”
Republican Senate Leader Phil Berger told the news outlet that no decision has been made about whether the bill will come up for a floor vote.