A North Carolina medical cannabis bill has cleared a critical committee hurdle on its way to potentially becoming law, according to the Winston-Salem Journal. The North Carolina Compassionate Care Act (NCCCA) passed the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday.
The proposal still needs to pass three more committees and has an uphill battle to the Senate floor, but the legislation does enjoy bi-partisan support, sponsored by Rules and Operations Committee Chair Sen. Bill Rabon (R), Sen. Paul Lowe (D), and Sen. Michael Lee (R), the Journal reports.
Although the bill is seen as progress after 12 years of attempts to pass the reforms in the Tar Heel State, the proposal is described by Democratic Sen. Wally Nickel as “the most conservative and restrictive medical marijuana bill in the country.”
“This bill is narrowly tailored to offer medical marijuana to those with legitimate medical needs.”—Nickel via the Winston-Salem Journal
During testimony, Rabon, the prime sponsor and a cancer survivor, assured critics the legislation would not lead to recreational cannabis reforms in the state.
Lee elaborated, saying, “Recreational marijuana use is not something we want in our state, but that should not keep us from doing the right thing for those dealing with chronic and debilitating conditions.” Additionally, he said a medical cannabis system could be used to teach teens and young adults about “overall” cannabis use.
Lowe believes the bill is another way to improve health care in North Carolina using “medical technology.” Lowe said, “some people need certain kinds of help to get better, and we should do all that is necessary to help them.”
Rabon testified that he knows “how rough it is to go through chemo and how bad it is to wake up every day and think it may be your last day on Earth.”
“There is nothing less compassionate on this Earth than to watch a person you love suffer when there is something that can ameliorate that suffering,” he said.
Despite the restrictive characterization of the bill, it says, in part, “modern medical research has found that cannabis and cannabinoid compounds are effective at alleviating pain, nausea and other symptoms associated with several debilitating medical conditions.”
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