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US (NC): Senate passes bill that could legalize medical cannabis, but a long road is still ahead

The North Carolina Senate took the first steps towards legalizing the use of medical cannabis throughout the state in early June with the passing of the Compassionate Care Act. 

If approved, the bill would allow physicians to prescribe medical cannabis to patients for conditions including cancer, epilepsy, HIV, AIDS, Parkinson's disease, and multiple sclerosis. Conditions such as chronic pain, glaucoma, and anxiety are not included. Eligible patients younger than 18 years old could also consume medical cannabis through a noninhalation method with the consent and care of a legal guardian.

It would also set up a system with licensed cannabis producers, distributors, and two regulatory boards. A new Medical Cannabis Production Commission would issue 10 supplier licenses, each of which are allowed eight potential dispensaries. 

SB 711 received bipartisan support and opposition. Led by Sen. Bill Rabon, it ultimately passed with a vote of 35-10. Eight Republicans and two Democrats voted against the bill.

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