A bill to legalize medical marijuana in North Carolina that won bipartisan support earlier this year in the state Senate has been doomed in the lower chamber, the speaker of the state House of Representatives confirmed this week.
According to the Associated Press, Speaker Tim Moore said there was too much GOP opposition in the House to garner the needed votes for passage, meaning cannabis advocates will almost certainly have to wait until 2024 for another shot.
Moore said that the House GOP has a rule that a majority of the caucus must support a given bill for it to be brought for a vote on the floor of the House, even if such a bill could advance without most Republican backing.
To comply with that rule “would require a number of House members who’ve taken a position of ‘no’ to literally switch their position to want to vote for it, and I just don’t see that happening,” Moore said.
Another GOP state lawmaker, Rep. John Bell, told the AP the issue is divisive among Republicans, with some “that are 100% supportive of it, and we have other members that are 100% against it.”
The political stalemate drew fire from some North Carolina stakeholders who are eager to see the state authorize a functional medical marijuana market, including many military veterans, WETC 6 News reported.
Another Republican state lawmaker, Sen. Bill Rabon, testified in May during a hearing on the MMJ bill – which he sponsored – that cannabis helped him survive cancer.
“I know that there’s tens of thousands of people in the state that could benefit just as I did,” Rabon said at the time, WETC reported.
Rabon also is attempting to legalize medical marijuana by adding an amendment to a health care bill that passed the state House earlier this year, but it’s unclear whether that move will be successful.