Let’s be blunt: As one of just 13 states that have not yet legalized medical marijuana, it’s high time NC steps up to the plate. Could 2022 be the year? While a bill to legalize medical marijuana for a select group of people diagnosed with certain medical conditions (called the NC Compassionate Care Act) made great headway in 2021—it was just one step from a vote in the NC Senate—it stalled and has not come up for a vote again. Until now.
The Senate is expected to take up the bill once again during its short session, which began May 18 (following the statewide election May 17) and will likely run for several months. The bills’ sponsors are optimistic that it’ll pass the Senate and are “cautiously optimistic” it will pass in the House, according to Garrett Perdue, a supporter of the bill and the CEO of Root Bioscience.
But before you get too buzzed about it, know that the bill is very, very tightly drawn. Only people diagnosed by a doctor with a “debilitating medical condition”—think cancer, epilepsy, positive HIV or AIDS status, or PTSD—would qualify for a medical marijuana card. So while a majority of NC voters are proponents of medical and recreational marijuana use (Perdue says that some 70% of North Carolinians support it), most won’t be able to legally toke up anytime soon. “This is a good place to start,” says Perdue—and this bill passing could be the first step in rolling out more laws.