Medical marijuana in NC — why the idea has a chance to become law

A survey conducted in January says 73% of North Carolinians want medical marijuana legalized. 36 states plus Washington D.C. allow marijuana use for medicinal purposes. Opponents say legal medical marijuana will lead to the legalization of recreational use. In March 2015, a bipartisan committee in the Republican-controlled North Carolina legislature unanimously said “no” to a group of Republican military veterans who asked the lawmakers to legalize medical marijuana so they could lawfully use it to treat their health problems.  Just six years later, fortune unexpectedly turned in favor of the long-controversial idea.  A bill to legalize medical marijuana in … Continue reading “Medical marijuana in NC — why the idea has a chance to become law”

  • A survey conducted in January says 73% of North Carolinians want medical marijuana legalized.
  • 36 states plus Washington D.C. allow marijuana use for medicinal purposes.
  • Opponents say legal medical marijuana will lead to the legalization of recreational use.

In March 2015, a bipartisan committee in the Republican-controlled North Carolina legislature unanimously said “no” to a group of Republican military veterans who asked the lawmakers to legalize medical marijuana so they could lawfully use it to treat their health problems. 

Just six years later, fortune unexpectedly turned in favor of the long-controversial idea. 

A bill to legalize medical marijuana in North Carolina has cleared two Senate committees this summer. If Senate Bill 711, the NC Compassionate Care Act, passes three more Senate committees, it could reach the Senate floor for a historic vote. 

How and why did legal medical marijuana shift so quickly from a bipartisan “hard pass” among North Carolina’s elected leaders to possibly becoming a reality? Observers cite political and societal trends that have lessened opposition and boosted acceptance and support for the idea. 

“It’s unlikely but not impossible. And that the odds are higher than they have been any time in North Carolina history” for legalization of marijuana for medicinal purposes, said Chris Cooper, a political scientist at Western Carolina University.

Sen. Bill Rabon speaks in favor of Senate Bill 711 during a Senate Judiciary hearing at the Legislative Building in Raleigh, N.C., Wednesday, June 30, 2021.

Key factors bode well for medical marijuana in North Carolina: 

► Republican Sen. Bill Rabon of Brunswick County, one of the top-ranked and most influential legislators in the General Assembly, is the point man on S711.  

► As of July, 36 other states plus Washington D.C. allow their residents to legally smoke weed or consume items made with pot in order to treat their health problems. Also, 18 states plus D.C. have legalized recreational use of marijuana. 

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