North Carolina’s Senate Bill 711 is being pushed into the state’s Senate Finance committee on Wednesday, July 21. If passed, it will allow doctors to prescribe medical marijuana in North Carolina for a variety of health conditions including epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis (MS), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and cancer.
A recent poll revealed that 73 percent of North Carolina voters are in favor of medical cannabis with 54 percent in support of recreational use. It’s safe to say that North Carolinians want this natural right along with the rest of the country.
However, lawmakers aren’t as optimistic. Most have voiced their support for cannabis, but the issue remains on how to handle regulations for the industry.
This has been one of the biggest challenges for state lawmakers. While a number of states already provide a blueprint for laws and regulations, there’s no denying that the marketplace is growing much faster than previously believed. With that, there are some concerns with banking, equity and licensing.
Still, after seeing so many states pull themselves out of the COVID-19 financial crisis with cannabis, North Carolina is well aware of the potential in this plant. In fact, lobbyists are using the money motive as a way to try and push medical legalization at a quicker rate.
And this isn’t difficult considering the number of examples around the country. Florida made $1 billion off its medical cannabis industry last year. Illinois is also believed to hit that figure with its recreational market by the end of this year.
In total, the United States made $15 billion off cannabis in 2020. A 40 percent increase over 2019 sales.
As we know, cannabis is only expected to continue growing at a rapid rate. With that, industry groups are working diligently to get Senate Bill 711 into the General Assembly and high-powered lobbyists are persuading lawmakers to vote on it.
Raising North Carolina Voices for Senate Bill 711
If passed, Senate Bill 711 will do more than just legalize medical cannabis in North Carolina. It will also allow for 10 “seed-to-sale” providers who will be responsible for growing, packaging, and distributing cannabis. Each of these providers will also be given the right to open a maximum of four dispensaries across the state.
Being as this bill will provide limitations, you can expect there to be a lot of competition to be one of these 10 initial providers. Furthermore, many have the motivation of knowing recreational cannabis will eventually be legalized in the state. As we’ve seen with other states, those who are already providing medical cannabis are usually the first to step forward in that industry as well.
Lawmakers will hear personal stories from people who have benefited from medicinal marijuana. These stories were put together by NC Families for Medical Cannabis, a group formed by a number of medical cannabis companies. One of which is Roots Bioscience, a cannabis company that sells hemp-based products.
“We’re giving a voice to patients, caregivers, and veterans in North Carolina who are suffering needlessly,” Garret Perdue, founder and chief executive officer of Roots Bioscience told WRAL News. “Our hope is by elevating their stories and making sure lawmakers have the opportunity to hear directly from someone who will benefit from the bill’s passage, qualifying North Carolinians will soon have legal access to medical cannabis.”
Senator Wiley Nickel (D-Wake), a co-sponsor of the bill, has talked to constituents about the difficulties that may arise from legalizing medicinal cannabis.
“Anything that is going to produce revenue and, you know, make money for folks will have lobbyists involved,” Nickel said. “I think the challenge we have is just making sure that we do this the right way.”
While Senate Bill 711 clearly imposes a 10 percent sales tax, lobbyists still aren’t sure how much revenue the industry could produce. Still, they have their hopes that they can use the extra money to fund public education.