North Carolina Compassionate Care Act Bill Summary
The North Carolina Compassionate Care Act would allow registered patients to use and safely access medical cannabis, making it the 37th medical cannabis state. The bill — SB 711 — is sponsored by Rules Committee Chairman Bill Rabon (R).
Qualifying for the Program
To qualify for a medical cannabis card, patients must submit a physician-issued written certification stating that the potential health benefits of medical cannabis would likely outweigh the risks for the patient. Patients must also have been diagnosed with a qualifying debilitating medical condition and submit a fee, which would be no more than $50.
Debilitating conditions that qualify include cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, ALS, Crohn's disease, Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, and other debilitating conditions “of the same kind or class as, or comparable to” the listed conditions.
Patients under the age of 18 only qualify with their parents’ consent and if the parents obtain the cannabis and control its dosage. Minors can only use non-inhaled methods.
Patients could possess up to a 30-day supply, as determined by their physician. The cannabis must be in a form recommended by one’s physician.
Legal Protections and Limitations
Registered patients, caregivers, and licensed businesses cannot be arrested, prosecuted, or penalized in any manner for state-legal medical cannabis.
The bill does not:
allow driving or boating while under the influence of cannabis;
change or create an exception to malpractice or negligence laws; or
require accommodation of medical cannabis at correctional facilities or workplaces.
Patients may designate one or two caregivers to assist them, such as by picking up their medical cannabis. Caregivers must be at least 21 years old.
Medical Cannabis Establishment Licensing and Regulation
A nine-member appointed Medical Cannabis Production Commission would be in charge of developing a system for licensing medical cannabis businesses. It would approve licenses upon recommendation of the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
The Commission would license up to 10 vertically integrated medical cannabis suppliers, which would each operate up to four medical cannabis centers (dispensaries). Suppliers could also operate cannabis product facilities.
Proof of residency is required for each principal officer, board member, and employee. In most cases, applicants must have been residents for at least two years.
People with a number of felony convictions — mostly related to theft, fraud, and drug distribution or manufacture — cannot be issued a supplier license.
Cannabis must be grown in a controlled, covered environment.
Businesses are subject to inspection.
Fees and Revenue Distribution
There does not appear to be any mention of an application fee for businesses.
Medical cannabis supplier licensing fees are as follows:
First-year: $50,000 plus $5,000 for each cannabis product facility or medical cannabis center
Subsequent years: $10,000 plus $1,000 for each cannabis product facility or medical cannabis center
Each supplier must pay a monthly fee equaling 10% of gross revenue.
Separately, a gross receipts rate of 18% applies.
After covering regulatory costs, a portion of the revenue would be directed to the North Carolina Cannabis Research Program. The remainder will be distributed to the General Fund.
If its board of governors accepts the responsibility, the University of North Carolina System would create the North Carolina Cannabis Research Program.
Within 120 days of the effective date, the North Carolina Medical Care Commission will issue rules to implement the medical cannabis registry.
The Department of Health and Human Services will have up to 59 days to approve or reject and then issue medical cannabis ID cards after an application is filed.
Within 180 days, the Medical Cannabis Production Commission will establish a medical cannabis supply system.
Before ID cards are available, a health department may issue temporary certifications for patients.