NC General Assembly - 2021 Cannabis Update

After many sessions of great bills that have gone nowhere, there was significant movement this session on cannabis reform.

Legislators get few “thank yous” so use this opportunity to build relationships. Please thank the sponsors of these bills which had bipartisan support. (Primary sponsors are in bold.)

SB 711 - NC Compassionate Care Act. Sponsors: Rabon, Lee, Lowe, deViere, Harrington, Nickel, Woodard. Has passed 4 Senate committee votes with one more committee vote and 2 full Senate floor votes before it is sent to the House to face several House committees and 2 floor votes. The bill is very restrictive but sets up a process to add more medical conditions, and the ability to address many issues that will arise without legislative action. Senator Rabon, a powerful Republican, put his muscle behind medical cannabis. It is being held in the Senate Rules Committee until the spring of 2022. The word in the NCGA halls is that Attorney General Josh Stein has concerns about the language of the bill. Stein supports legalization of medical cannabis. However, if there is a lawsuit against the state regarding portions of the bill, it's his job to defend the state. Senator Rabon has maintained control of the bill by holding S711 in a committee that he chairs. The assumption is that new language will be added to the bill to address concerns.

SB 301 - Expand Expunction Eligibility. Sponsors: Britt, Daniel, Lee, Mayfield, Mohammed, Murdock, Robinson, Clark, Corbin, deViere, Garrett, Hise, Marcus. The Senate bill passed both chambers and was ratified into state law (SL 2021-118). It makes it easier to expunge criminal records for non-violent crimes, including cannabis felonies.

HB 858 - Permit Cannabis Medical Research Studies. Sponsors: Martin, Faircloth, Belk, Ager, Alexander, Autry, Ball, Brockman, Butler, Carney, Cooper-Suggs, Dahle, Fisher, Gill, Harris, Harrison, Hunter, Insko, Lucas, Meyer, Pierce, R. Smith. Representative Faircloth, R, is a former drug enforcement officer and House leader, and an important sponsor.

Please feel free to use the script below or edit it make it your own:

Dear Representative/Senator (last name in email),

Medical cannabis is important to me, and I appreciate your support. 

Legalizing medical cannabis has an important community impact.  According to the Journal of American Medical Association Internal Medicine, opioid overdoses were significantly lower (6.38%) in states with legal medical cannabis laws. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29610827/

The war on cannabis is very costly to our government. The Journal of Drug Issues estimated that U.S. law enforcement prohibition regarding marijuana sales and possession cost close to $8 billion a year in criminal justice resources. Given the cost of keeping cannabis tied to criminal activity “calls into question the merits of policies” to use the criminal justice system to regulate marijuana access. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/002204260703700209 

Thank you for understanding that. I also thank you for being willing to serve in the General Assembly.  Please know that I recognize it is a demanding job.

Sincerely, (your name)


If you get a response or have a conversation, please fill out this form for our Government Relations team https://airtable.com/shruR7GLu11s9RWNy

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