NC Nears Medical Cannabis with SB3: Enter SB346
In recent years, the hemp and cannabis industries have experienced significant growth and change, leading to new legislation and regulations in various states. North Carolina is one of the 11 states that do not have some form of legal cannabis. However, the hemp industry is thriving in the state, with farmers and processors exploiting legal loopholes to satisfy the market with products like Delta-8, compliant D9 edibles, and THCA flower. In this evolving landscape, two Senate Bills – 346 and 3 – have been proposed, each with different implications for consumers’ needs. In this blog, we will provide a comprehensive analysis of both bills and their potential impact on the accessibility and options available to North Carolina’s cannabis consumers, as well as the benefits of taxation for the state.
Our Personal Journey
When we opened our store four years ago, offering just a few CBD tinctures and bags of CBD gummies, we could never have imagined how the hemp industry would evolve into something very similar to the recreational marijuana industry in states that license, regulate, and tax stores like ours. This rapid evolution of the market highlights the importance of adapting legislation to address the changing needs of consumers and businesses alike.
Senate Bill 346 focuses on the regulation and taxation of unauthorized substances, including marijuana. The bill aims to create a more open market for both medical and recreational cannabis use, which could benefit a wider range of consumers. The bill clarifies the tax exemptions for certain marijuana parts, such as harvested mature marijuana stalks when separated from and not mixed with any other parts of the plant, fiber or other products derived from stalks, sterilized marijuana seeds incapable of germination, and roots of the marijuana plant. The bill will be effective from January 1, 2024, and will apply to offenses committed on or after that date.
Key points from Senate Bill 346:
- Outlines excise tax rates on unauthorized substances, including marijuana
- Provides tax exemptions for specific marijuana parts
- Allows for both medical and recreational cannabis use
- Effective from January 1, 2024, for offenses committed after that date
Senate Bill 3 (N.C. Compassionate Care Act)
Senate Bill 3 aims to legalize medical marijuana for patients with cancer, post-traumatic stress disorder, HIV/AIDS, and other chronic illnesses. While this bill could be seen as a start to introducing cannabis legalization in North Carolina, it has several limitations. The bill requires qualifying patients or designated caregivers to purchase cannabis from licensed dispensaries with the use of an identification card. However, it would limit store ownership to larger companies, operating similarly to North Carolina’s ABC Stores.
Physicians will be required to complete a 10-hour educational course and further supplemental training during any year when they issue a written certification. The bill also mandates the frequent reevaluation of patients to determine the efficacy of cannabis as treatment.
According to the N.C. General Assembly’s legislative fiscal note, the legislation would increase revenue for the state, with patient and caregiver registry card application fees and gross receipt fees generating most of the revenue.
Key points from Senate Bill 3:
- Legalizes medical marijuana for patients with specific chronic illnesses
- Requires patients and caregivers to purchase cannabis from licensed dispensaries
- Limits store ownership to larger companies
- Mandates physicians to undergo continuous education and training
- Increases state revenue through fees and taxes
Comparison and Implications for Cannabis Consumers
While Senate Bill 3 could be seen as a starting point for cannabis legalization in North Carolina, it has several limitations that could impact consumers. The bill focuses on medical marijuana and government-regulated dispensaries, which could restrict accessibility and options for consumers.
On the other hand, Senate Bill 346 addresses the taxation and regulation of unauthorized substances more broadly and allows for both medical and recreational cannabis use. This approach would provide greater accessibility and choice for consumers, as well as support a more open market that includes smaller businesses.
Our Stance on the Senate Bills
While SB3 might be more likely to pass in the current political climate, we believe that SB346 presents a more comprehensive approach to addressing the needs of North Carolina’s cannabis consumers. By including both medical and recreational cannabis use in its provisions, SB346 would offer a more inclusive and accessible market that better meets the demands of our diverse clientele. We encourage our customers and supporters to advocate for SB346, as it aligns more closely with our vision for a cannabis market that serves the needs of all North Carolinians.
The Honest Approach
We also believe that SB346 represents a more honest approach to regulating the cannabis market in North Carolina. The current distinction between hemp-derived products and other forms of cannabis is, in many cases, arbitrary, as the products are often quite similar in terms of their effects and uses. While the existing legal framework has allowed stores like ours to thrive, we believe that it’s time for the state to acknowledge the true nature of the market and stop pretending that businesses like ours are solely focused on selling CBD. By adopting a more comprehensive and transparent regulatory approach, as outlined in SB346, North Carolina could ensure a safer and more equitable market for all stakeholders.
The Evolving Cannabis Market in North Carolina
North Carolina’s hemp industry has grown significantly, and the market is becoming more sophisticated than the current laws. This has led to farmers and processors utilizing loopholes to provide products like Delta-8, compliant D9 edibles, and THCA flower. The state could greatly benefit from the taxation and regulation of the cannabis market, which is currently unregulated. By implementing legislation that addresses both medical and recreational cannabis use, as proposed in Senate Bill 346, the state could capitalize on this thriving market and improve the safety and regulation of cannabis products.
As the hemp and cannabis industries continue to evolve, it is crucial to support legislation that meets the needs of consumers and promotes accessibility and choice. We encourage you to stay informed about these Senate Bills and advocate for regulations that provide the best options for North Carolina’s cannabis consumers while capitalizing on the potential tax benefits for the state in this thriving and evolving market.
Links of interest: