Will Medical Marijuana Legislation Pass in North Carolina in 2022?

The North Carolina Compassionate Care Act, also known as Senate Bill 711 (SB 711), is currently working its way through the legislative system. SB 711, the Medical Marijuana initiative, is steadily moving its way to its last vote for North Carolina after surviving a series of hurdles, including some strong opposition along the way. It has been moving from one committee to another for over a year, which has been disheartening to many patients in North Carolina who suffer from a qualifying medical condition. The desire of having a medical marijuana card by patients in North Carolina has not diminished, and many feel the program may be hanging by a thread as the medical marijuana bill makes its way through the state legislative branch. 

One big question that remains is whether or not medical marijuana will be made legal or even be available before 2023? This article looks at the projected future of the medical marijuana program in North Carolina. 

SB 711 – North Carolina’s Approach to a Medical Marijuana Program

Presently, about 75% of North Carolina citizens are fully rooting for the legalization of medical marijuana. The Tar Heel State has done its best to pass the medical marijuana bill in a timely fashion, but the legislative process can be slow, especially for a hot topic item like medical cannabis. Despite the efforts made in pushing SB 711 through the legislative process, many are wondering if medical marijuana legislation passes, how long would it be until the state cannabis program would be available to patients in North Carolina. Many believe that SB 711 will narrowly pass in North Carolina, a bill that would establish a complete medical cannabis program for the state. This medical marijuana bill has some exciting elements to it which include sections outlining how patients can obtain medical marijuana cards in the state of North Carolina, the structure of the Compassionate Use Advisory Board, the restricted amount of cultivators and distributors permitted in the state, and how cardholders will receive legal protection.

SB 711 has been burdened by the same issues faced in other southern states, which include high fees for distributors and cultivators, the limited amount of licenses that would be issued by the state, and who will receive them.

Proposed North Carolina Medical Marijuana Program for Cultivators

SB 711 has numerous clauses that would affect how, when, and where cannabis will be able to be cultivated and prepared. Several sections of the proposed legislation address cultivators and how or when they will become fully functional:

  • There would be a limit of 10 cultivators allowed, with a $50,000 license fee. If approved, applicants could then pay an additional $5,000 per facility, up to a max of four. They also have a framework that gives suppliers 120 days to begin cultivation and 270 days to begin selling cannabis after receiving their license from the state.
  • The Medical Cannabis Commission that would be established would be responsible for providing regulations stating how facilities dispensing medical marijuana must operate. This will be done at a future date after the law passes.
  • There would also be a fee of 10%, which would be taken from the gross profits of all cannabis sales. This fee would be paid directly to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.

Each state has its own approach when it comes to medical cannabis, but the southern states seem to follow a similar process after the legalization of medical marijuana. In the majority of states that have passed medical marijuana legislation, the candidates for distribution or cultivation facilities are usually limited to a few selected groups. Expensive licensing fees, stern rules, and regulations to be observed typically create substantial obstacles for most people. Medical marijuana programs, by their nature, are complex for the state to enact. With many moving parts, the legislative risk to both parties can have a huge impact on the effectiveness of the program and how quickly it will be operational.

Many patients in North Carolina are hoping more qualifying conditions will be added to the current list, such as chronic painlupusarthritis, and migraines. They believe the decision to explore the natural benefits of medical marijuana should be theirs. Many patients are tired of relying solely on standard pharmaceuticals, many of which have severe side effects.

How Likely is Medical Marijuana to be Legal in North Carolina During 2022?

While it is possible that a medical marijuana program will pass in North Carolina in 2022, it is unlikely that sales of cannabis products will begin in 2022. This is because dispensaries will have to grow and process the medical cannabis before they can begin selling. If a medical cannabis program passes in 2022, then the state-licensed cannabis dispensaries will most likely not begin selling medicinal marijuana products to patients until 2023. This is seen by many as both good and bad news for the citizens of North Carolina. On the one hand, once the proposed medical marijuana program passes, growers will be required to make marijuana products available within a limited amount of time or risk losing their license. This stipulation could have suppliers and distributors of cannabis products scrambling to get their products on the shelves, which could affect the quality. On the other hand, while these time constraints may seem short for the suppliers, it would give patients ample time to apply for a medical marijuana card and get approved.

Medical marijuana programs require a lot of time and legal finesse to draft, revise, and pass into law. There is a risk the bill could be less effective than desired due to political wrangling in a state like North Carolina, where bipartisanship is heavily divided. This division causes one party to demand a more severe restriction on access to the drug to be for chronically and end-stage patients. At the same time, the other party demands better availability and earlier onset of distribution for medical cannabis products. One thing is certain, while North Carolina is pondering on how to limit or enhance the medical marijuana program: Chronically ill and end-stage patients are eagerly waiting for legislators to pass some type of medical cannabis bill.

Published by Robert

Robert writing and blogging since he was a toddler. Her art of writing has always been influenced by his love of nature, animals and the world around him. She grew up in rural Tennessee where he spent a lot of time outdoors exploring the woods and fields near his house. This environment helped to shape both his life and his artistry of writing as an adult. In high school she took college-level classes in as well he appreciated and admired others for writing.

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