The North Carolina House passed Senate Bill 448, legalizing FDA-approved THC medications in a 92-9 vote, reported The Carolina Journal.
The move came on the heels of the Senate’s approval of a medical marijuana bill known as N.C. Compassionate Care Act, which would also legalize non-FDA-approved medical cannabis.
While it was expected that N.C. Compassionate Care Act would receive opposition and possibly be stalled in the House, with the approval of Senate Bill 448 its chances of passing the House now look even slimmer.
The bill approved on Wednesday will now move to Democrat Gov. Roy Cooper’s desk, where he can decide to sign it, veto it, or let it become law with no action.
Senate Bill 448 discloses changes to Schedule VI of the Controlled Substances Act that would enable prescription drugs containing cannabis and THC to be sold and consumed in North Carolina if the FDA approves the drug.
During Wednesday’s House debate, Rep. Larry Pitman (R) tried to add an amendment to the Controlled Substances Act that no matter the actions by the FDA or federal government, cannabis would remain illegal in the state. Fortunately for medical marijuana patients, the amendment was ruled out of order.
Rep. Pat McElraft (R) asked her colleagues to vote against Pittman’s amendments explaining it would also keep Jazz Pharmaceutical’s (NASDAQ:JAZZ) Epidiolex illegal. Epidiolex is the first FDA-authorized CBD medicine used for treating children with severe forms of epilepsy.
“The first sentence in the title of this is an act to in the absence of the objection from the commission for mental health, developmental disabilities, and substance abuse services, this would be automatic,” McElraft said. “They still have a right to do exactly what they were doing before in that commission. They can still object if they have an FDA-cleared drug that they don’t want to come to North Carolina. I have to remind you these are FDA-cleared drugs. This is not marijuana legalization.”
Rep. Carla Cunningham (D) was also among lawmakers who urged a vote against the amendment saying some children and their families have been forced to go to Colorado for years to obtain FDA-approved treatment for uncontrollable seizures.
Sen. Jim Burgin (R), one of the original co-sponsors of S.B. 448 in the Senate, was in Denver at the time of the bill's passage. “We can get FDA-approved drugs out to the public sooner with this bill,” Burgin told Carolina Journal in a phone interview.
Earlier this month, Kansas approved similar legislation with Governor Laura Kelly (D) signing a measure that would allow Kansans to obtain FDA-approved prescription drugs derived from cannabis-related products.