With medical marijuana inching closer to legalization, legislators and advocates react

North Carolina is one of only 12 states without legal medical marijuana currently
Published: Jun. 2, 2022 at 8:42 PM EDT
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GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - A bill to legalize medical marijuana in North Carolina is moving forward. The state Senate passed it after a second reading Thursday.

The bill now needs one final Senate reading before it heads to the state House.

WITN talked to some legislators who feel the bill is a step in the right direction, but that it’s still too strict.

SB711, or the Compassionate Care Act, received bipartisan support, with sponsors like Republican Sen. Bill Rabon and Democratic Sen. Paul Lowe.

“We think we’ve done the right thing. We think that every provision from start to finish has been well thought out, well laid out, and put before you,” Rabon said shortly before the vote.

The bill lays out specific conditions one would have to prove to qualify to use medical marijuana. For example, having cancer, epilepsy, and PTSD. It describes those conditions as debilitating.

“I was especially moved by the volume of soldiers who served our country honorably and came back with invisible wounds, and we heard about how this saved people’s lives recovering from PTSD,” Sen. Wiley Nickel said.

Travis Brake is a store manager and part-owner at Hemp Garden, a CBD store in Greenville. He feels the bill would allow people who struggle with pain to find some relief.

“On a daily basis almost, I meet people who are either having a hard time with their pain pills or something that’s just not working to the degree that they were looking for,” Brake said.

While Brake feels the bill is too strict about who would be able to use medical marijuana, he says it could open up to more people being eligible over time.

“For example, when it first came out, PTSD wasn’t part of the bill, where I guess they met enough times that they realized it should be a part of the bill, so they added it to it,” Brake said. “Potentially down the line after it passes, they may add more health issues that would allow people to have access to it.”

The bill will be voted on a third time on Monday and then could head to the House, but House Speaker Tim Moore has expressed that he won’t take it up for a vote.

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