Medical marijuana passes in NC senate, Ford votes no

Published 12:08 am Thursday, March 2, 2023

RALEIGH — North Carolina state senators passed a bill, 36-10, that would legalize medical marijuana Wednesday in the bill’s third and final reading before it goes to the House for a vote there. Sen. Carl Ford (R-33), who represents both Stanly and Rowan counties, was one of the 10 senators who voted against the bill.

“If you know anything about me as a county commissioner and in the House and Senate, I voted against alcohol and everything else, it’s just what I do,” Ford said. “I just don’t think we need to hurt people anymore than we’re already hurting them.”

Ford said it was a “slippery slope” because “every state that has gone on to pass medical marijuana has gone on to pass recreational marijuana.”

He also cited that states who legalized medical or recreational marijuana had increased incidences of car accidents and driving while impaired charges. Voting for anything that will make it easier for people to get their hands on drugs or alcohol is not something he believes in, Ford said. He hasn’t had a drink in 43 years.

“I know it doesn’t go over well with some people, but it’s how I vote, it’s what I believe,” Ford said.

Known as the “N.C. Compassionate Care Act (Senate Bill 3),” the bill will legalize marijuana for medical purposes if they have received permission from a doctor. Part of the bill reads, “this article is intended to make only those changes to existing North Carolina laws that are necessary to protect patients and their doctors from criminal and civil penalties and is not intended to change current civil and criminal laws governing the use of cannabis for nonmedical purposes.” 

The bill passed in the Senate last year as well in a 36-7 vote, but was never voted on in the House. It will now be up to the House again to decide the fate of the bill. If passed, the Senate will have to vote again before it goes to the governor’s office to be signed as a law.

Representative Harry Warren said he couldn’t comment on whether or not he will support the bill until it makes its way to the house.

“I’m remaining objective at this point. I need to see the finished bill,” he said. “When it comes to the House it will go through a committee process and is subject to change in amendments just like it was on the Senate side when it got filed over there. So, we have 120 people in this chamber and I’m sure some of them have some real serious thoughts on what they think it should look like. I can’t tell you I would vote for it, I don’t know what it’s going to look like by the time it comes my way.”

Rep. Kevin Crutchfield (R-83) said he had no comment on the bill passing in the senate. Rep. Julia Howard (R-77) could not be reached.

North Carolina is one of a handful of states that have not legalized medical marijuana; 37 states have legalized it. According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, an agency within the National Institutes of Health, medical marijuana can be helpful in treating “rare forms of epilepsy, nausea and vomiting associated with cancer and chemotherapy, and loss of appetite and weight loss associated with HIV/AIDS.” The center also reports that it could help with chronic pain and multiple sclerosis symptoms.