The North Carolina Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday advanced a medical cannabis bill that has bipartisan support from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, the News & Observer reports. The measure moves next to the Senate Health Care Committee before making its final stop at the Rules and Operations Committee before moving to the chamber for a vote by the full chamber.
The Judiciary Committee added several amendments, including banning medical cannabis smoking in public, while driving, and within 1,000 feet of schools and churches; narrowing the number of qualifying conditions, including removing language allowing physicians to recommend medical cannabis for any condition they deemed necessary not covered explicitly under the law; adding a provision allowing anyone with a terminal condition and prognosis of fewer than six months to live, and adding a section outlining various requirements doctors will have to meet before recommending medical cannabis.
Democratic State Sen. Natasha Marcus said the measure could be improved were it to include allowing medical cannabis as a replacement for opioid prescriptions for chronic pain patients, which she said would lead to fewer opioid-related deaths in the state.
Pat Oglesby, a former business and law professor at the University of North Carolina, who has worked on medical cannabis issues in other states, said that lawmakers should also consider removing language in the bill that requires cultivators to have at least five years of experience with “cultivation, production, extraction, product development, quality control, and inventory management of medical cannabis in a state-licensed medical or adult-use cannabis operation.” Oglesby said that there is likely almost no one in the state that could meet those requirements.
Earlier this month, The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians passed an ordinance to legalize medical cannabis on tribal land, becoming the first location in North Carolina to allow its use.
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