- Hammond Lewis
Will North Carolina Medical Marijuana Be Legal in 2021?
The proposed medical marijuana program has been through the legislative ringer in North Carolina.
Passing through committee after committee with hurdles and opposition along the way, SB711, the Medical Marijuana initiative, is slowly making its way to a final vote for North Carolina.
And while the bill makes its rounds through legislative sludge, patients looking to get a medical marijuana card in North Carolina have been hanging by a thread, waiting for legislators to make moves.
But will medical marijuana be legal or even available before 2022?
In this article, we’ll look at the projected future of medical marijuana in North Carolina, and what you might expect in the coming months.
SB711 – North Carolina’s Approach to Medical Marijuana Programs
Although over 75% of people in North Carolina support legalizing medical marijuana, the state has struggled to pass its medical marijuana bill in a timely fashion.
One of the biggest questions facing the medical marijuana program and the senators that are putting it through the ringer, is when the program will become available if it passes, and many political analysts believe it will.
SB711 is slated to narrowly pass in North Carolina, a bill that would implement a comprehensive medical marijuana program for the state.
The bill has some interesting parts to it, items concerning how patients will be able to receive their medical marijuana cards, the structure of the Compassionate Use Advisory Board, the limited number of cultivators and dispensaries allowed in the state, and how cardholders are to interact with law enforcement.
SB711 is busy with copy/paste legislature from other southern states, hefty fees for dispensary operators and cultivators, and a cheeky opportunity for the few applicants who get approved by the state to open more facilities.
How North Carolina’s Medical Marijuana Program Works for Cultivators
SB711 is packed full of clauses that affect how, when, and where cannabis will be able to be grown and processed.
Several pieces of the proposed legislation directly address cultivators and how or when they will become operational:
Only 10 cultivators will be allowed, the license fee is $50,000, and approved applicants can pay an extra $5,000 per facility to open additional locations.
Suppliers must begin cultivation within 120 days of receiving their license and begin selling cannabis within 270 days of initiating cultivation
Specific rules and regulations concerning facility operations, equipment, and facilities will be determined by the Medical Cannabis Commission in the future
A 10% fee will be taken from all gross profits of cannabis sales to be paid to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services
While every state is different in how they have approached cannabis, in the wave of southern states legalizing medical marijuana there are some distinct similarities.
Often for states that are hesitant to pass medical marijuana legislation, applicants for dispensaries or cultivation facilities are limited to a select group, high licensing fees are required, and strict regulations are to be followed, though not yet defined.
Medical marijuana programs are complex programs for states to pass, there are a lot of moving parts and the legislative risk to bipartisanship wreaks havoc on how a medical marijuana program will flourish, and especially how quickly it will begin to operate.
Will Medical Marijuana be Legal in North Carolina By 2022?
The short, sweet, and likely true answer, is probably not.
And if medical marijuana does become legal in 2021 for North Carolina, it will certainly not be until 2022 before dispensaries are selling cannabis products to patients.
This is both good and bad news for North Carolina.
On the one hand, provided that the proposed medical marijuana program passes, cultivators will have strict time constraints on how fast they will be able to get products on the shelves for patients.
On the other hand, this gives plenty of time for patients to apply and get approved for a medical marijuana card, a process in North Carolina that will require a physical patient visit and coordination with state departments.
Medical marijuana programs take time and a lot of legislative wording to work out, and the risk for error is high when bipartisanship is as heavily divided as it is in North Carolina.
With one party pushing for tighter, more limited access for chronic and terminally ill patients to their medicine and another party pushing for more availability and a quicker onset, heads are sure to butt.
But while North Carolina is figuring out how they want to restrict or promote its medical marijuana program, one thing is certain:
Chronic and terminally ill patients are eagerly waiting for legislators to pass or fail the bill.
And for chronically and terminally ill patients, that vote can’t come soon enough.
Get Your North Carolina Marijuana Card
North Carolina is working to pass a comprehensive medical marijuana program that will allow patients the right to use cannabis as a medicine without legal repercussions.
It’s our hope that soon patients will be able to apply for a medical marijuana card and begin receiving the compassionate treatment that they deserve.
To stay up to date on the North Carolina medical marijuana program and get real time updates when the state makes changes, sign up for our newsletter at the bottom of the page!
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