Medical marijuana bill clears Senate Finance Committee
The “NC Compassionate Care Act,” a bill that would legalize medical marijuana in North Carolina, passed the Senate Finance Committee today.
Sen. Bill Rabon, R-Brunswick, filed S.B. 3 on the first day bills were allowed to be filed this year. Sens. Michael Lee, R-New Hanover, and Paul Lowe, D-Forsyth, are the other two primary sponsors of the bill.
Last year, Rabon filed a marijuana legalization bill that passed the Senate by a vote of 36-7. However, S.B. 711 did not make it through the state House.
In the committee meeting Wednesday, there were discussions about whether the $150,000 summation of fees for suppliers would be prohibitive.
Sen. Gladys Robinson, D-Guilford, posed the question to bill sponsors. Sen. Paul Newton, R-Cabarrus, said that proponents were not concerned about the amount, and Sen. Paul Lowe said that North Carolina’s fees for entry are low compared to other states.
S.B. 3 would create the Medical Cannabis Production Commission, which would have the power to issues licenses to supply medical cannabis. It would also have the power to suspend or revoke licenses. The commission could only issue up to 10 supplier licenses, each of which can operate no more than four medical cannabis centers. Each supplier must pay a monthly fee of 10% of their gross revenue derived from cannabis sales to D.H.H.S.
During public testimony, three people spoke against the bill, all representing Christian organizations. One person spoke in favor of medical marijuana legalization, but still critiqued the bill, saying it does not go far enough.
The bill passed the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday. It now goes to the Rules and Operations of the Senate Committee, of which Sen. Rabon is the chairman. The bill is widely expected to clear the senate again, but its future in the state House remains uncertain.