RALEIGH, NC (WNCN) – After two month of hearings on a bill to legalize medical marijuana in North Carolina, it is unclear when or if the bill will actually be voted in the Senate.
While some Republicans in the Senate are making efforts to get the invoice, Others this week voiced concerns that it would ultimately put the state on the path to full legalization.
“The purpose of this law is to get people out there who want marijuana legalization, and this is their first step,” said Senator Ralph Hise (R-Mitchell). “I think they are using these people who have these serious diseases to move their agenda forward.”
On Thursday, Republican Senate chairman Phil Berger said a decision has not yet been made on whether or when the bill will be put to the vote in the plenary chamber.
“We had what I think was an open and thorough examination of the subject,” he said. “The bill went through several iterations in committee procedure.”
Last week, Berger took the unusual step of moving forward with a vote on a law to legalize sports betting, despite the opposition of most members of his party.
When asked if he would do the same with the Medical Marijuana Act, he said, “I’m just not going to hypothesize what might happen. The bill is where it is. We’ll see what happens if it goes on. ”
The bill was passed by the Senate Health Committee on Thursday with some additional changes to restrict sales from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and to say that medical cannabis centers cannot be within 300 meters of churches, schools and childcare facilities.
The last committee it has to go through is the Senate Committee, which is chaired by Senator Bill Rabon (R-Braunschweig), a main sponsor of the bill.
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 36 other states have legalized the medicinal use of cannabis. Eighteen states, including Virginia, have legalized it for recreational use. In Virginia, sales will not be legal until January 1, 2024.
Holly Springs’ Michael Monfort advocates passing the bill, saying cannabis helped him manage multiple sclerosis.
“My cramps are very bad. They are so bad at night that I couldn’t even stay in bed, ”he said. “I finally fell asleep in bed again and woke up refreshed the next day. I couldn’t do that with any of the other drugs. ”
Army Veteran Samuel Roberts said another veteran first told him about the potential benefits of marijuana to help with the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder.
“There seems to be a lot of ignorance on the subject. People don’t know enough about it, ”said Roberts. “That won’t fix everything. But it will help. ”
The pending law would allow marijuana to be used for a variety of “debilitating diseases”. Including: cancer, epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, PTSD and others. An advisory board would be set up to add conditions to the list.
Senator Jim Burgin, a Republican representing the Harnett, Johnston, and Lee counties, outlined a variety of concerns and said he had heard from the sheriffs in each of those counties that they were against it.
He expressed concern that people would be able to get licenses from the state and then sell those licenses.
“We need to figure out how we can take the profit motive out of it, if it is ever done, because if we do we will have marijuana legalized in this state in 24 months,” he said.