A bill legalizing medical marijuana in North Carolina passed a final vote in the state Senate on Monday evening. The bill, called the North Carolina Compassionate Care Act, was approved easily with a 36 to 7 vote after months of debate and revisions. But it may have more trouble getting through the House.
The Republican-backed bill legalizes medical marijuana for a number of conditions, including cancer, epilepsy, HIV/AIDS and post-traumatic stress disorder.
The bill received bipartisan support in the state Senate, where it was sponsored by Republican Sens. Bill Rabon and Michael Lee and Democratic Sen. Paul Lowe.
“It is our duty as lawmakers to pass legislation that helps people who need our help,” Rabon said on the floor of the Senate last week. “It is not going to make them ashamed or reluctant to seek help if it is recommended to them by their physician.”
Rabon said the bill has tighter regulations than any other medical marijuana laws in the country.
North Carolina is in the minority when it comes to marijuana laws. Across the country, 37 states have legalized either medical or full recreational marijuana.
Just to the north over the state line, recreational marijuana is legal in Virginia, though state lawmakers there are still working out the details for retail sales.
Veterans groups turned out in force to support the bill during the last session, telling stories from combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. They told members of the state Senate how marijuana was one of their only options for relief from severe PTSD and chronic pain.
The bill requires people to get a prescription from a doctor for marijuana if they have one of the dozen conditions listed in the bill or are receiving hospice care.
The bill would allow up to 10 medical marijuana providers to be licensed by the state, with each allowed to open four stores to sell marijuana.
It’s not clear what will happen with the bill now that it’s in the House.
House Speaker Tim Moore, a Republican, said the medical marijuana bill will have to wait until next year, according to The Associated Press.
Leaders in the General Assembly say they hope to finish this year’s short session by July 4. They have a lot on their plate for the rest of June, including a bill to expand Medicaid and the Parent’s Bill of Rights, both of which have passed the Senate, and passing a new state budget.