Republican opposition defeats North Carolina medical cannabis again

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For the third straight year, a proposal to legalize medical cannabis has failed in the North Carolina Legislature.

Despite winning approval in the state Senate, a “strict” medical marijuana proposal was not called for a vote in the House of Representatives because of Republican opposition, a lawmaker told the Asheville Citizen Times.

“It is a gateway drug, which causes impairment as its primary function and results in addiction,” Republican state Rep. Mark Pless told the newspaper.

The North Carolina General Assembly adjourned last week until July 10, but the MMJ bill is unlikely to be considered when lawmakers return.

The measure would have allowed state regulators to license up to 10 vertically integrated businesses, each of which would have been allowed to operate up to eight retail dispensaries.

The topic is likely to return, as a campaign wedge issue as well as a legislative proposal.

At least one North Carolina state senator, Republican Warren Daniel, voted yes after previously opposing the bill, and he’s up for reelection in a newly redrawn district, the Citizen Times observed.

His Democratic opponent, former state Rep. John Ager, wants to allow North Carolina farmers the opportunity to grow cannabis, the paper reported.

In the meantime, both medical and recreational cannabis is available in North Carolina, but in only one place.

That’s the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians’ Great Smoky Cannabis Co., where the tribe launched adult-use sales on the Fourth of July and MMJ sales on April 20 on its Qualla Boundary.