Hopes remain dim for medical marijuana legalization in North Carolina this year

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A measure to legalize medical marijuana in North Carolina has only a small chance of passing the Republican-controlled state House before the Legislature adjourns.

Multiple sources told Axios that House Republicans voted internally in a closed-door meeting Wednesday not to advance an MMJ bill.

Even before the meeting, chances of House lawmakers supporting MMJ legalization had been seen as slim.

North Carolina’s state Senate overwhelmingly passed a restrictive, limited-license medical marijuana bill earlier this month by a vote of 35-10 on the second reading and 36-7 on the third reading.

But the House always had been viewed as a higher hurdle.

Axios noted that because budget negotiations are still under way between the two chambers, it’s possible that bills such as the MMJ measure could be brought back to life.

North Carolina’s Legislature is scheduled to adjourn June 30.

Under the Senate-passed measure, or the North Carolina Compassionate Act, regulators would issue 10 MMJ licenses that would be vertically integrated.

Each operator could open up to four dispensaries, with at least one in a county designated as economically disadvantaged.

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Democratic Sen. Julie Mayfield has expressed concerns with the vertical structure, saying that only large corporations would be able to afford to compete and that the state’s hemp businesses would be shut out.

Mayfield filed an amendment that would require the commission to issue dozens of separate grower, processing and retail licenses, but lawmakers tabled that amendment.