WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) – The Medical Marijuana bill (SB 711) passed a second reading in the NC State Senate Thursday.
After discussion the bill passed 35-10 in favor of what is also known as the Compassionate Care Act.
Local legislators State Sen. Bill Rabon and State Sen. Michael Lee voted in favor of the bill. State Sen. Ted Davis voted against it.
Co-sponsors of the bill, Rabon and Lee, spoke of the many benefits of medical marijuana.
“This bill is going to, in my opinion, help a lot of people at the end of their life, at a time that they need some compassion, at a time that what little time they have left, should be s comfortable, as easy, as can be,” said Rabon.
He explained that they had looked at other states to see the good and the bad, and have ensured the proposed legislation is tightly controlled and that all the suppliers, growers, testers, and retailers will be monitored with strict oversight.
“We want people to be able to legally and safely enjoy the time they have left,” said Rabon.
Lee confirmed that the restrictions are in place for public safety. He said patients seeking access to medical marijuana will go to their Doctor and the physician will have to certify the condition and how the potential health benefits of cannabis will outweigh the risks. Once certified, the patient will then to go to the DHHS for verification of their need and to get a card for access to the drug before receiving the marijuana from a regulated medical supplier.
“The patient gets to pray that this works because a lot of times nothing else does,” said Lee.
Not everyone was in favor of the bill; Sen. Jim Burgin spoke against it.
“Marijuana does not treat the ailment; it only masks the symptoms,” said Burgin.
Sen. Julie Mayfield requested an amendment on behalf of her constituents, many of whom are small business hemp growers.
“This is a bill that the public clearly wants, but it is not quite there yet,” said Mayfield.
She said there are 1500 licensed hemp growers in North Carolina, 1300 processors, and thousands of retailers, most of which are small businesses. Yet the bill as proposed, had licensing requirements that were out of reach for most small organizations.
Mayfield proposed an amendment that includes separate licenses for growers, processors, and retailers.
The motion to table the amendment passed 27-18.
The bill still needs final approval from the chamber before advancing to the state House. If it clears the House, it moves to Governor Roy Cooper’s desk for final approval.
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