Medical Cannabis Passes North Carolina Senate

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The Senate’s latest attempt at legal medical cannabis access for patients was added to a bill on hemp regulations.

On June 20, 2024, the North Carolina Senate approved a measure that would make medical cannabis legal in the state for patients with qualifying conditions (1). The vote was 33-9, though a second vote will be taking place on Monday.

Earlier this week, the provision to legalize medical cannabis was added to a bill on hemp and kratom regulations. The new amendment was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee and then sent to the Senate Rules Committee (2,3). The new text states that medical cannabis will be legal for patients with certain conditions, such as cancer, and would need a written certification from a physician (4). It also creates an advisory board, outlines how patients can obtain a medical cannabis card, and includes restrictions on where cannabis can be smoked.


One major supporter of the bill has been Senator Bill Rabon, who has described using cannabis during his chemotherapy treatments for colon cancer. “The people that need and can benefit from medical-grade cannabis are dying,” Rabon stated (3). “They’re dying every day. They’ve died for six years since I started working on this. I want to know where the compassion in this room is. I want to know because I’m not seeing it.”

Rabon also commented on the bill’s added regulations on hemp (5). “Hemp products can be used by anyone 21 years of age upon the passage of this bill,” Rabon explained. “Medical marijuana can only be used by people at the recommendation of a physician. It will be a safer product than anything else that you see. It will be specifically used for named and enumerated diseases, most of them terminal.”

If the measure if approved after the second vote, it will head to the North Carolina House, though it is unclear if there will be enough support in the House to pass it. A previous attempt last year to pass a medical cannabis bill was approved by the Senate, but not the House. Senator Rabon had also led the push for the bill.

Medical and recreational cannabis has already been approved in a different part of the state. Last year, an indigenous tribe in North Carolina, the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI), issued its first medical cannabis card (6). The EBCI Cannabis Control Board had stated at the time that it had already received more than 1000 applications for cards and over 800 have been approved. In 2021, the tribe voted to legalize medical cannabis on the Qualla Boundary and in April 2024, the first sales of medical cannabis began in the tribe’s dispensary. Earlier this month, the EBCI Tribal Council approved sales of cannabis for recreational purposes (7). Products at the dispensary are reportedly anticipated to become available first to enrolled tribal members, and then to the general public within the coming months.


  1. Seminera, M. North Carolina Senate gives initial approval to legalizing medical marijuana (accessed June 21, 2024).
  2. Seminera, M. North Carolina revives the possibility of legalizing medical marijuana (accessed June 21, 2024).
  3. Herrington, A.J. North Carolina Senate Approves Medical Marijuana Legalization Bill (accessed June 21, 2024).
  4. House Bill 563 (accessed June 21, 2024).
  5. Campbell, C. NC Senate wants to tie medical marijuana legalization to new hemp regulations (accessed June 21, 2024).
  6. McEvoy, E. Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians Issues Medical Cannabis Cards in North Carolina (accessed June 21, 2024).
  7. Knoepp, L. Eastern Band of Cherokee Tribal Council approves recreational marijuana sale (accessed June 21, 2024).