North Carolina Senate Votes to Permanently Legalize Hemp

The North Carolina Senate voted to permanently legalize hemp on Tuesday and some lawmakers are set to discuss the legalization of medical cannabis today.

Full story after the jump.

The North Carolina Senate on Tuesday voted unanimously on a measure that would permanently legalize hemp in the state, defining it as having less than 0.3% delta-9 THC and excluding it from the state’s controlled substances list, WRAL reports. State lawmakers temporarily legalized hemp in 2015 as part of a pilot program that expires at the end of June.

State Sen. Brent Jackson (R) told WRAL that the bill “is basically just confirming the hemp laws with federal models.” The 2018 federal Farm Bill legalized hemp nationally but left it up to the states to develop their program rules and regulations within the confines of the federal statute.

The chamber’s Rules Committee is expected today to hear a medical cannabis bill authored by committee Chairman Bill Rabon (R). The measure is expected to pass the committee, the report says, and could reach the Senate floor as early as Thursday.

The NC Compassionate Care Act would allow medical cannabis use for a narrow list of conditions, including cancer, epilepsy, post-traumatic stress disorder, HIV, AIDS, and Crohn’s disease. Chronic pain and anxiety are not included in the bill, which would be one of the strictest in the nation.

Dylan Watts, state Senate Republican political director, told Axios that polling indicates medical cannabis “is supported across party lines.”

“The issue seems to have almost been desensitized across all demographics,” he said.

A poll released last week from the Carolina Partnership for Reform, a conservative group, found that 82% of respondents supported the reforms. The group said it was “surprised” by the support which included 75% of Republicans, 87% of unaffiliated voters, 86% of Democrats, at least 78% of men and women, white and Black North Carolinians, liberals, moderates, and conservatives. The poll found that 77% of evangelical voters supported the reforms.

“In fact,” the group said in a post outlining the survey results, “it would be hard for us to point to an issue that we’ve surveyed in the last decade that unified our polarized electorate like legalizing medical marijuana does.”

If approved by the Senate, the bill would still require House approval before moving to the governor.

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