The “NC Compassionate Care Act,” a bill that would make medical marijuana legal in North Carolina, cleared the state Senate Tuesday by a vote of 36 to 10. It will be before the chamber again on Wednesday for a third and final vote.
Sen. Bill Rabon, R-Brunswick, filed Senate Bill 3 (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. S.B. 3 will face a similar test again this year.
This year, the bill received ‘no’ votes from the following senators:
- Ted Alexander, R-Cleveland
- Jim Burgin, R-Harnett
- Warren Daniel, R-Burke
- Carl Ford, R-Rowan
- Steve Jarvis, R-Davidson
- Joyce Krawiec, R-Forsyth
- Tom McInnis, R-Moore
- Brad Overcash, R-Gaston
- Norman Sanderson, R-Pamlico
- Eddie Settle, R-Wilkes
Burgin was the only senator to speak against the bill before the vote was held.
“Marijuana is not medicine,” said Burgin. Burgin also said he feared legalizing medical marijuana would lead to legalizing recreational marijuana.
S.B. 3 would create the Medical Cannabis Production Commission, which would have the power to issue 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 from cannabis sales to D.H.H.S.
The bill is expected to pass third reading on Wednesday and be sent to the House for approval.