Is Medical Marijuana Coming to North Carolina in 2022?
Get ready, Tar Heels! 2022 could be the year that medical marijuana is approved, which means you might be able to get a North Carolina Marijuana Card very soon!
In 2021, SB 711, the North Carolina Compassionate Care Act, came closer to passage than any medical marijuana bill in the state’s history. Ultimately, the bill’s progress through Senate subcommittees was halted by the need to address more pressing issues, like redistricting. However, it looks like a safe bet that SB 711 will be back up for debate in 2022, and it doesn’t appear to have lost any momentum.
Medical Marijuana Bill Must Clear One Last Committee
While there is always the chance of a surprise when it comes to steering a bill through the labyrinth of procedural rules and committees that is the North Carolina General Assembly, SB 711 should only have to clear one more committee vote before it comes up for a vote by the entire Senate.
The bill cleared three committees last year - the Judiciary, Finance, and Health Care committees - before it ran out of time. But one of the bill’s primary sponsors, Paul Lowe of Forsyth County, told Spectrum News “We’re planning on picking up the rest and getting it through during the short session,” which will begin in May.
And if it seems overly optimistic to think that SB 711 can sail through the Senate during the General Assembly’s shorter, even-numbered-year session, let’s keep in mind some advantages on the bill’s side. For one, there is the fourth and final committee it must clear before heading to the floor of the Senate for a full vote: the Rules and Operations Committee.
“So what,” you ask? Well, the chair of the Rules Committee is Bill Rabon, of Brunswick. “So what,” you ask again? Well Rabon is the primary sponsor of SB 711, and his sponsorship of the bill combined with his power as the chair “may be enough to keep the bill moving during the short session.”
SB 711 Has Bipartisan Support in the Senate and House
Another advantage SB 711 has is that it enjoys bipartisan support.
Even if the bill sails through the last committee, it will still have to survive a vote by the entire Senate. If it does, it will have to clear a maze of House committees before coming to the floor of that chamber for a vote. And to do that, the bill will need to find support among both Democrats, who have traditionally supported medical marijuana legislation, and Republicans, who have rarely supported it.
On the Senate side, SB 711 is sponsored by two Republicans besides Rabon (Michael Lee and Kathy Harrington) and three Democrats besides Lowe (Kirk deViere, Wiley Nickel, and Mike Woodard). Furthermore, it passed through all three committees with bipartisan support, indicating there are enough advocates on both sides of the aisle to pass SB 711. And if there aren’t enough votes from both sides yet, the fact that there is existing bipartisan support makes it more likely that there will be enough supporters by the time the bill is brought before the full Senate for a vote.
You should never count chickens before they hatch, especially in politics, having bipartisan sponsorship makes it more likely the sponsors will be able to sway any of their colleagues who are on the fence. If a legislator is leaning towards supporting a bill, but believes doing so may make them persona non grata among their fellow party members, they may suddenly lack the spine to vote for approval. But if that legislator sees allies backing the legislation, they’re more likely to support it.
As Spectrum News put it, “With powerful Senate Republicans backing the bill, it could pass that chamber early in the short session. That would be the farthest a medical marijuana bill has ever made it in North Carolina, then it would be up to the House to decide if it will actually become a law.”
As for the House side, it’s a little less clear how much support there is for the bill, because no one in any committee has actually had a chance to vote for it. There is, however, at least one positive sign that House Republicans will be encouraged to vote for SB 711 (and remember that it’s Republican support that’s most crucial to passage).
House majority whip John Hardister, of Guilford County, told Spectrum that while he has not done a preliminary vote among House Republicans to gauge their support for the bill, he himself is in favor of SB 711.
“I’m in favor of the bill. I’m in favor of medical marijuana,” he said. “I think that doctors ought to have the ability to prescribe it. I think that in many ways, based on the research that I’ve done, medical marijuana is less addictive and harmful than some of the opioids that are currently legal.”
And to paraphrase Spectrum News’ comments on the Senate, with powerful House Republicans backing the bill, it could pass that chamber in the short session. That’s especially true if those House Republicans find themselves facing pressure from their constituents.
North Carolina Voters Want Medical Marijuana
That brings us to SB 711’s biggest advantage in 2022: North Carolina voters want medical marijuana, or at least they want it to be legal.
Polls have shown that 70% of North Carolina residents support creating a medical marijuana market here. Even politicians can overlook all of the overwhelming evidence of cannabis’ medical value, can shrug off pressure from within their party to support medical marijuana, and can ignore the financial benefits of legalization, they can’t ignore 70% of their constituents and expect to keep their jobs.
We don’t have a crystal ball, but it sure looks to us like 2022 is shaping up in favor of medical marijuana in North Carolina.
Don’t Wait for SB 711 to Pass - Get Ready for Medical Marijuana Right Now!
Unfortunately, you’ll have to wait for the people in Raleigh to catch up with the other 37 states that have medical marijuana markets before you can get a North Carolina Marijuana Card. But fortunately, you can start getting ready for that day right now!
Reserve an evaluation online today, and we’ll book an appointment for you with one of our compassionate doctors just as soon as North Carolina’s medical marijuana market is official.
You and your new doctor will meet virtually, using your smartphone, tablet, or computer for a telemedicine appointment. You’ll learn all about how medical marijuana may be able to help your conditions, without even leaving the comfort and safety of your own home. And you’ll even save $25 off the cost of the evaluation!
Doctors Who Care.
Relief You Can Trust.
Helping everyone achieve wellness safely and conveniently through increased access to medical marijuana. Our focus on education, inclusion, and acceptance will reduce the stigma for our patients by providing equal access to timely information and compassionate care.
If you have any questions, call us at (833) 781-7320, or simply book a medical marijuana evaluation to start getting relief you can trust today!