The North Carolina Senate has signed off on a medical cannabis legalization proposal for the second year in a row.
Lawmakers passed Senate Bill 3, the NC Compassionate Care Act, Feb. 28 in a 36-10 vote.
The Senate must approve the legislation in another vote on Wednesday before the bill goes to the House for consideration, according to a WRAL News report.
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S.B. 3 largely mirrors another medical cannabis legalization proposal that cleared the Senate last year before House Republicans voted against advancing the legislation in that chamber.
Sen. Bill Rabon, R-Brunswick County, sponsored the NC Compassionate Care Act this year and last year.
As Cannabis Business Times previously reported, this year’s proposal would allow adults 21 and older with a qualifying medical condition and a state-issued medical cannabis identification card to purchase cannabis from state-licensed dispensaries to treat symptoms. Some qualifying conditions outlined in the legislation include cancer, epilepsy, post-traumatic stress disorder, Crohn’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.
The bill instructs a newly established Medical Cannabis Production Commission to award licenses to 10 entities to grow, process and sell cannabis. Each licensee could open up to eight dispensaries, called medical cannabis centers.
S.B. 3 requires medical cannabis licensees to pay 10% of their monthly sales revenues to the state. An analysis conducted by nonpartisan legislative staff suggested that the NC Compassionate Care Act could generate roughly $44 million in revenue for the state beginning in fiscal year 2027-2028, according to a WBTV report.
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Rabon has told reporters that he believes there is more support for the legislation in the House this year, according to WRAL. House Speaker Tim Moore told WBTV that he also believes a medical cannabis legalization proposal could clear the House this year, pointing to newly elected lawmakers in favor of legalization as well as returning legislators who have changed their minds on the issue since last year’s session.
Seventy-two percent of North Carolina voters are in favor of medical cannabis legalization, according to a WRAL News poll released last year. The poll, conducted through SurveyUSA, also revealed that 57% of voters support adult-use legalization.