Senate committee substitute to the 2nd edition makes the following changes.
Amends 90-113.136, which prioritizes funds appropriated to the Medical Cannabis Production Commission, to correct and add to statutory cross-references relating to the medical cannabis supply system and the registry system established under the new Article 5H.
NC COMPASSIONATE CARE ACT.
|View NCGA Bill Details||2023-2024 Session|
AN ACT ENACTING THE NORTH CAROLINA COMPASSIONATE CARE ACT.Intro. by Rabon, Lee, Lowe.
Wed, 25 Jan 2023 Senate: Filed
Thu, 26 Jan 2023 Senate: Passed 1st Reading
Thu, 26 Jan 2023 Senate: Ref To Com On Rules and Operations of the Senate
Fri, 27 Jan 2023 Senate: Withdrawn From Com
Tue, 21 Feb 2023 Senate: Reptd Fav Com Substitute
Tue, 21 Feb 2023 Senate: Com Substitute Adopted
Tue, 21 Feb 2023 Senate: Re-ref Com On Finance
Wed, 22 Feb 2023 Senate: Reptd Fav Com Substitute
Wed, 22 Feb 2023 Senate: Com Substitute Adopted
Wed, 22 Feb 2023 Senate: Re-ref Com On Rules and Operations of the Senate
Mon, 27 Feb 2023 Senate: Reptd Fav
Tue, 28 Feb 2023 Senate: Passed 2nd Reading
Wed, 1 Mar 2023 Senate: Passed 3rd Reading
Thu, 2 Mar 2023 Senate: Regular Message Sent To House
Thu, 2 Mar 2023 House: Regular Message Received From Senate
Mon, 6 Mar 2023 House: Passed 1st Reading
Summary date: Feb 22 2023 - View Summary
Summary date: Feb 21 2023 - View Summary
Senate committee substitute to the 1st edition makes the following changes.
Amends the definitions set out in new GS 90-113.112, as follows. Amends the definition of adequate supply to require that the patient’s physician determine the amount of useable cannabis. Adds and defines the term supplier registry identification card as a document issued by the North Carolina Department of Health and Humans Services (DHHS) under GS 90-113.120(f). Adds and defines the term supplier identification cardholder as a person who has been issued a supplier registry identification card.
Amends the membership of the Compassionate Use Advisory Board in proposed GS 90-113.113 to require one of the Governor’s appointees be a medical doctor recommended by the North Carolina Medical Board, who may be a former or current member of the North Carolina Medical Board (was, a medical doctor or doctor of osteopathy licensed in the state).
Amends proposed GS 90-113.114 by requiring the Department of Health and Human Services, upon request, to provide information in the medical cannabis registry database to the North Carolina Medical Board. Also requires physicians to update the medical cannabis registry database within 48 hours (was, three days) after any change is made to the original written certification to reflect the change.
Amends the provisions of proposed GS 90-113.116, concerning the requirement to carry and disclose registry identification cards to law enforcement, to also make the provisions applicable to carriers of supplier registry identification cards. Also requires displaying the relevant card and identification when approached or addressed by a law enforcement officer, no longer requiring the officer to request the information.
Amends proposed GS 90-113.117, concerning the medical cannabis registry database. Allows law enforcement agencies to contact DHHS to confirm a registry identification cardholder’s identity if the law enforcement agency is unable to verify the registry identification cardholder by using the medical cannabis verification system (was, law enforcement agencies may contact DHHS to confirm cardholders). Adds to the items that must be included in the database: (1) the adequate supply of cannabis or cannabis-infused product prescribed to the qualified patient and (2) the prescribed delivery method for the cannabis or cannabis-infused product for the qualified patient.
Amends the membership of the Medical Cannabis Production Commission (Commission) under proposed GS 90-113.118 to require one member be a member of the Compassionate Use Advisory Board appointed under GS 90-113.113(a)(1) (a member appointed by the Governor) (was, must be a physician member of the North Carolina Medical Board designated by the North Carolina Medical Board). Amends proposed GS 90-113.118(h), which gives the Commission power to approve applications for a medical cannabis supplier license, as follows. Under (h), suppliers must operate at least one medical cannabis center in a Tier 1 county; adds that Tier 1 counties means the 2023 County Tier Designations published by the Department of Commerce according to the specified statute. Also adds the requirement that the Commission must consider the following criteria in awarding licenses: (1) requires giving priority to any supplier who commits to establishing a medical cannabis center in more than one Tier 1 county and (2) requires giving priority to a supplier who commits to establishing the eight allowed medical cannabis centers in a way that demonstrates a commitment to ensuring the equitable distribution of medical cannabis centers throughout the State in order for registry ID card holders to access an adequate supply of cannabis and cannabis-infused products, while preventing an overconcentration of medical cannabis centers in any one area (allows considering county population in making this determination). Also amends the Commission’s power to adopt rules by specifying that the Commission, in consultation with the North Carolina Medical Care Commission, has the authority to adopt rules (was, requires the adoption of rules). Adds that the rules become effective when adopted and pursuant to the provisions of GS Chapter 90. Makes additional clarifying changes to the statute.
Amends proposed GS 90-113.119 by amending the requirements of the seed-to-sale tracking system to require that it also allow real-time, 24-hour access by state or local law enforcement agencies, in addition to the already listed DHHS and Commission.
Amends GS 90-113.120(f), concerning supplier register identification cards, as follows. Expands upon the individuals who may be issued a supplier registry identification card to also include supplier owner. Adds the requirement that cardholders carry the card and a valid identification when the cardholder is possessing cannabis or cannabis-infused products. Requires the card to be printed with tamper-resistant technology and to contain the seven specified items, including the supplier’s name and the name of the supplier’s business, and the cardholder’s photo. Further amends the statute by expanding upon factors that disqualify a person for licensure as a medical cannabis supplier to prohibit licensure of a person: (1) who has had a license previously revoked by the Commission or (2) who has been convicted in a federal court or in any other jurisdiction of an offense substantially similar to a specified listed disqualifying offense.
Amends GS 90-113.122 by making technical changes.
Amends proposed GS 90-113.123 to extend who is given an exemption from criminal laws related to cannabis to include a supplier as well as a supplier’s employee, agent, or principal. Amends the conditions under which that exemption is lost (1) so that it is applicable to a supplier, a supplier’s employee, agent, or principal (was, a person who is not a qualified patient or a designated caregiver but who is otherwise authorized to possess, produce, deliver, or transport cannabis for medical use); (2) so that the acts that result in the loss of exemption no longer include driving when impaired in violation of the specified statutes; and (3) so that the acts that result in the loss of exemption to otherwise include production, possession, distributing, or dispensing cannabis or cannabis-infused products in a manner that is not consistent with new Article 5H. Adds that nothing in the statute extends the protections of the statute to any person, including a supplier or their employee, agent, or principal, to allow that person to acquire, possess, manufacture, produce, use, sell, distribute, dispense, or transport cannabis in a manner that is inconsistent with Article 5H. Makes additional clarifying and technical changes.
Amends proposed GS 90-113.124 to require, in order to be exempt from arrest, prosecution, or penalty, that the cannabis or cannabis-infused product possessed or purchased by a registry identification cardholder have a package with the required label. Removes from this statute the provision providing suppliers immunity for producing, possessing, distributing or dispensing cannabis or cannabis-infused products. Makes additional clarifying changes.
Amends proposed GS 90-113.126 by adding the following. Makes it a Class 3 misdemeanor to possess cannabis or a cannabis-infused product, other than in a closed retailer’s container as packaged, in a passenger compartment of a vehicle in a public vehicular area or on a public street or highway. Makes it a Class 2 misdemeanor to enter or attempt to enter a licensed medical cannabis center where cannabis or a cannabis-infused product is sold, or to obtain or attempt to obtain cannabis or a cannabis-infused product, or to obtain or attempt to obtain permission for such a purchase, by using or attempting to use a fraudulent or altered registry identification card.
Amends GS 90-94 by making conforming changes.
Amends proposed GS 90-113.127 by expanding upon the items that may be disclosed by the medical cannabis verification system, to include the adequate supply of the cannabis or cannabis-infused product.
Amends proposed GS 90-113.132 to require the rules adopted by DHHS related to packaging and labeling of cannabis and cannabis-infused products provide for uniform packaging and labeling, as well as safe, appropriate, and accurate packaging and labeling.
Summary date: Jan 25 2023 - View Summary
Enacts new Article 5H to GS Chapter 90, to be cited as the "NC Compassionate Care Act," requiring the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to issue "registry identification cards" to persons who qualify as qualified patients or designated caregivers under the Article’s provisions. Sets forth legislative findings, the purpose of the Act, and defined terms for the Article.
Establishes an 11-member Compassionate Use Advisory Board (Advisory Board), consisting of seven gubernatorially appointed members and four legislatively appointed members, appointed for up to two four-year terms. States member qualifications. Provides for meetings, vacancies, and member expenses. Grants the Advisory Board authority to approve adding a debilitating medical condition to those defined by the Article by majority vote of members present and voting, and requires the Board to meet at least twice per year for that purpose. Requires initial appointments to be made within 45 days of the date the act becomes law and staggers initial terms.
Sets standards for physicians issuing written certification of debilitating medical conditions under the Article. Requires physicians to complete a ten-hour continuing medical education course on prescribing cannabis and an annual three-hour supplemental medical education course thereafter. Requires maintaining records of compliance for six consecutive years with permitted inspection by the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) or the NC Medical Board or its agents. Establishes a requirement for physicians to register written certifications in the medical cannabis registry database electronically, and limits issuance to patients with whom the physician has a bona fide physician-patient relationship. Includes patient screening and patient education requirements. Requires physicians to have a physical office in the state to conduct in-person exams. Requires physicians to reevaluate patients as needed to determine the efficacy of the use of cannabis as a treatment for the patient's medical condition, at least quarterly in the first year and annually thereafter, with the Medical Cannabis Production Commission (Commission, as established below) authorized to set shorter reevaluation intervals or in-person exam requirements. Sets requirements for checking patients' prescription history. Requires physicians to update the medical cannabis registry database within three days after any change is made to the original written certification. Charges DHHS with monitoring written certifications and referring cases to the NC Medical Board or SBI as appropriate. Prohibits physicians from evaluating patients or advertising on the site of a medical cannabis center. Prohibits physicians who provide written certifications from being employed by or have any direct or indirect economic interest in a supplier or independent testing laboratory, or profiting from a patient obtaining a written certification, aside from visit fees. Authorizes the Commission to adopt rules regarding physicians and the issuance of written certifications.
Specifies criteria and procedures for DHHS’s issuance or renewal of registry identification cards. Provides for limited issuance of registry identification cards to minors. Details required card information; notice requirements for information changes; and DHHS’s authority to deny, suspend or revoke cards. Directs DHHS to adopt implementing rules and to establish requirements for card issuance that include six specified components, which must include setting a limit on the number of written certifications a physician may issue; requires adoption within 270 days of the date the act becomes law. Requires cardholders to carry the card and valid identification whenever the cardholder is carrying cannabis or cannabis-infused products. Also requires the cardholder to disclose to any law enforcement officer that the cardholder holds a valid registry identification card when approached or addressed by the officer and display both the registry identification card and valid identification at the request of a law enforcement officer.
Requires DHHS to create a secure, confidential, electronic medical cannabis registry database of all qualified patients and designated caregivers to whom DHHS has issued cards, consisting of the name, address, and photo of the cardholder; the name, address, and hospital affiliation of the physician that issued the respective written certification; and a photo of the cardholder. Allows law enforcement to contact DHHS to confirm cardholders. Deems card applicants’ information confidential and not public record, with limited exceptions for authorized DHHS employees and law enforcement. Makes it a Class 2 misdemeanor for any person (including a State or local employee) to breach confidentiality of such protected information, punishable by a civil penalty of up to $1,000. Specifies that the provisions do not prevent DHHS from notifying law enforcement of falsified or fraudulent information submitted with a card application.
Establishes the 11-member Medical Cannabis Production Commission (Commission) with oversight of medical cannabis supplier licensing and licensee discipline. Requires approval of licensee applications upon recommendation by DHHS, as described, by majority vote of members present and voting. Details Commission membership, terms, leadership, vacancies, removal, quorum, and member expenses. Details disciplinary authority. Requires the Commission to consult with the NC Medical Care Commission to adopt implementing rules to establish qualifications and requirements of licensure, for production by a supplier, and for proper regulation of medical cannabis centers and cannabis product facilities operated by suppliers; ensure equitable distribution of medical cannabis centers across the State; and establish civil penalties for minor violations. Includes member disqualifications concerning conflicts of interest as an owner or employee of a licensed medical cannabis supplier or testing lab, or as a qualified patient, a designated caregiver, or physician issuing written certifications. Requires initial appointments to be made within 45 days of the date the act becomes law and staggers initial terms.
Directs the Commission to establish a medical cannabis supply system to provide a safe, regulated supply of cannabis appropriate for medical use by qualified patients that are valid cardholders; ensure statewide access to safe and affordable cannabis to cardholders; establish a system that is well-regulated and financially viable; and to generate revenue sufficient for the Commission to verse and DHHS to maintain and operate the system. Directs the Commission to adopt regulatory rules that consist of at least 14 specified components, such as security, sanitation, storage and transportation requirements. Directs the Commission to establish, maintain, and control a computer software tracking system that traces cannabis from seed to sale and allows real time, 24-hour access by DHHS and the Commission to data from all production facilities, medical cannabis centers, and testing labs. Details further requirements of the tracking system. Explicitly requires medical cannabis suppliers to use the tracking system or integrate its own system with the system established by the Commission. Authorizes the Commission to contract to establish the tracking system, so long as the vendor does not have a direct or indirect financial interest in a medical cannabis supplier or testing lab. Allows for legislative appropriations to establish the system, but states the NCGA's intent that the operation be funded by authorized fees.
Establishes criteria for licensing medical cannabis suppliers to (1) grow, cultivate, produce, or sell cannabis or cannabis-infused products; (2) operate a business to produce cannabis or cannabis-infused products; or (3) establish or operate a medical cannabis center for the sale of cannabis, cannabis-infused products, and paraphernalia relating to the administration of cannabis to qualified patients and designated caregivers who hold valid registry identification cards. Requires suppliers to begin cultivation within 120 days of receiving a license and begin selling cannabis or cannabis-infused products in medical cannabis centers within 270 days of initiating cultivation. Includes criminal history check requirements. Specifies licensure disqualifications, including being less than 21, or having served a sentence of any of the listed felonies within the previous five years. States sales and supply restrictions of licensees. Establishes monthly fees and reporting requirements for licensees. Authorizers DHHS to impose fines of up to $10,000 on suppliers for certain enumerated violations, including improperly disclosing confidential patient information or failing to maintain required records. Authorizes the Commission to require financial audits at cost to the supplier. Provides for criminal immunity for licensed medical cannabis suppliers as specified, excluding conduct described in four instances, such as driving while impaired by cannabis.
Provides civil and criminal immunity for a registry identification cardholder for purchasing or possessing cannabis for medical use if the quantity does not exceed an "adequate supply" for the patient as determined by their physician. Adequate supply is defined by the act to, among other things, (1) apply only to cannabis from an intrastate source and (2) limit permitted supply to an amount reasonably needed for a 30-day period. Provides for exclusion of the weight of other ingredients infused or added to cannabis for consumption or use by a qualified patient in determining whether the patient is in possession of an amount that exceeds the patient's adequate supply. Also provides immunity and protection from penalties for licensed suppliers of cannabis or cannabis-infused products consistent with the Article. Prohibits law enforcement from considering a qualified patient or designated caregiver’s possession or use differently than any other lawful possession or use of a controlled substance so long as the possession or use complies with the Article.
Specifies that the new Article does not authorize a registry identification cardholder to engage in the smoking of cannabis or the vaping of cannabis for medical use in seven places identified by the act, including (1) in a public place or a place open to the public, (2) in any place of employment, (3) in a vehicle, or (4) in or within 1,000 feet of the property line of a church, child care facility, public school or nonpublic school, community college or UNC facility or grounds, unless the use occurs within a private residence. Provides further specifications relating to smoking or vaping near a child care facility or community college or UNC facility or grounds. Makes smoking or vaping cannabis in violation of these prohibitions an infraction punishable by a fine of up to $25.
Makes it a Class G felony to manufacture, sell, deliver, or possess with intent to manufacture, sell, or deliver cannabis in violation of this Article at a medical cannabis center or production facility. Makes it a Class H felony to create, sell, deliver, or possess with intent to sell or deliver counterfeit cannabis in violation of this Article at a medical cannabis center or production facility. Makes it a Class A1 misdemeanor to possess an amount of cannabis up to 1 1/2 ounces in violation of this Article, at a medical cannabis center or production facility. Makes it a Class H felony to possess an amount of cannabis that exceeds 1 1/2 ounces in violation of this Article, at a medical cannabis center or production facility. Makes it a Class 1 misdemeanor to provide DHHS with false or misleading information in relation to a registry identification card or license. Makes it a Class I felony for any person who has been issued a valid registry identification card who is found to be in possession of cannabis in violation of this Article. Adds that if a person is convicted of a violation of GS 90-95(h)(1) (trafficking in marijuana), and it is found that the offense was committed at a medical cannabis center or production facility or with cannabis from a medical cannabis center or production facility, then the person must be sentenced at a felony class level one class higher than the principal felony for which the person was convicted, and an additional 12 months will be added to the mandatory minimum sentence. Prohibits sentencing at a level higher than a Class C felony. Requires an indictment or information for the felony to allege the facts that qualify the offense for an enhancement under this provision. Adds that one pleading is sufficient for all felonies that are tried at a single trial. Specifies that these new penalties can be imposed in addition to any other penalties provided by law.
Requires DHHS to establish a web-based verification system allowing DHHS personnel, State and local law enforcement personnel, and medical cannabis centers to enter a registry identification card number to determine whether the number corresponds with a current, valid registry identification card. Limits the information that the system may disclose to seven specified items. Specifies who may have access to the system. Requires before cannabis or cannabis-infused products are dispensed to a registry identification cardholder that a medical cannabis center employee access the system and determine that: (1) the registry identification card presented at the medical cannabis center is valid; (2) each person presenting a registry identification card is the person identified on the card; (3) the amount to be dispensed would not cause a qualifying patient to exceed the limit on obtaining no more than an adequate supply of cannabis or cannabis-infused products during any thirty-day period; (4) the cannabis to be dispensed complies with the delivery method; and (5) after making the determinations required in (3), but before dispensing cannabis or cannabis-infused products to a registry identification cardholder, a medical cannabis center employee must enter specified information into the system on the amount of the product, who it is dispensed to, date and time it is to be dispensed, and the dispensing center’s registry identification number.
Requires DHHS to perform annual inspections of the premises of licensees, including any production facility or medical cannabis center. Establishes security measures and inspection requirements of suppliers, production facilities, and medical cannabis centers, including requiring suppliers to implement security measures adopted by the Commission in consultation with the SBI, and subjecting production facilities and medical cannabis centers owned and operated by a supplier to random inspection by DHHS and the SBI in accordance with rules adopted by the Commission.
Establishes hour, location, and age restrictions for medical cannabis centers. Prohibits licensed medical cannabis centers from selling cannabis or cannabis-infused products between 7:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. Bars locating a medical cannabis center within 1,000 linear feet of the property line of a church, child care facility, public school or nonpublic school, or community college or UNC facility or grounds. Limits entry to individuals who are qualified patients, designated caregivers, and persons whose job duties require their presence in the medical cannabis center. Requires employees to be 21 or older. Prohibits consuming cannabis or cannabis-infused products on the site of the medical cannabis center. Prohibits cannabis, cannabis-infused products, and paraphernalia from being visible to the public from the outside of the medical cannabis center. Authorizes the Commission to establish rules to allow the delivery of cannabis, cannabis-infused products, and paraphernalia used to administer cannabis products by medical cannabis centers to the home of a qualified patient or designated caregiver.
Requires DHHS to establish standards for and license up to five independent testing labs to test cannabis and cannabis-infused products that are to be sold in this State. Requires an independent testing lab to analyze a representative sample before the sale or transfer to a medical cannabis center by a production facility; requires the lab to report the results of all required testing to DHHS and the Commission. Makes an independent testing lab responsible for selecting, picking up, and testing samples. Requires DHHS to adopt rules to establish certain standards related to testing, lab licensing, and lab fees, as well as remedial actions that may be taken for samples which do not meet the established standards. Includes disqualifications for owners or employees of a supplier, production facility, or medical cannabis center.
Establishes advertising restrictions as follows. Requires the production facility or medical cannabis center logo, advertising, and signage to be tasteful, respectful, and medically focused; prohibits it from appealing to minors or containing cartoon-like figures or attempts at humor. Prohibits suppliers from using marijuana leaves or cannabis slang on their signs, logos, packaging or structures, as well as prohibiting the use of neon in signs, logos, packaging, or on structures. Requires suppliers to submit logos or signs to DHHS for review. Requires medical cannabis centers to only use signs that include its name, logo and hours of operation. Establishes prohibited advertisements by suppliers and centers, such as distributing handbills in public areas. Authorizes the Commission to take action against a licensee or retailer who engages in nonconforming signage or advertising. Establishes parameters for medical cannabis center websites. Requires production facilities and medical cannabis centers owned and operated by a supplier to have a discreet, professional appearance compatible with existing commercial structures or land uses in the immediate area. Requires DHHS to consult with the Commission to adopt rules to define and monitor standards for centers’ names, signage, and logo.
Requires suppliers to safely package and accurately label cannabis or cannabis-infused products and requires items sold at a medical cannabis center to be properly labeled and in child-resistant packaging. Prohibits labels from including strain names and requires labels to include at least 10 specified items, including the name of the medical cannabis center, the percentage of tetrahydrocannabinol and the percentage of cannabidiol within a profile tolerance range of 10%, and the length of time it takes for the product to take effect. Requires cannabis products to be placed in child-resistant packaging before leaving the medical cannabis center. Requires DHHS to adopt rules that accomplish three specified objectives, including establishing restrictions on the forms and appearance of edible cannabis-infused products in order to reduce their appeal to minors.
Requires the destruction and disposal of (1) production center cannabis by-product, cannabis scrap, and harvested cannabis not intended for distribution to a medical cannabis center or independent testing lab, and (2) cannabis and cannabis-infused products that are not sold to qualifying patients by medical cannabis centers. Requires keeping documentation of the destruction or disposal for at least one year and requires a record of the date of destruction and the amount destroyed. Requires a medical cannabis center to also destroy all unused cannabis products that are returned to the center by a formerly qualifying patient who no longer qualifies or by the former qualifying patient’s caregiver.
Expresses legislative intent that the NC Collaboratory undertake scientific research regarding the administration of cannabis or cannabis-infused products as a part of medical treatment and directs the Collaboratory to create the North Carolina Cannabis Research Program. Details parameters for the research and includes immunity for the Collaboratory and its partners to possess, transport, test, and dispose of cannabis within the scope of its research.
Establishes the North Carolina Medical Cannabis Program Fund within DHHS to ensure there are funds to carry out DHHS’s responsibilities under this Article. Requires revenues in excess of the amount needed to implement, administer, and enforce the Article to be distributed to the General Fund annually.
Appropriates system revenues from license fees and monthly revenue fess to the Commission, with three authorizes uses, with priority to costs associated with establishing and operating the regulated medical cannabis supply system. Provides for revenues in excess of the authorized uses to be annually transferred to the General Fund.
Requires DHHS, in consultation with the Commission and Advisory Board, to report annually on the effectiveness of the medical cannabis program and any recommended changes. Sets out nine items that must be included in the report, while protecting the identity of specified individuals and entities. Requires the report to be submitted to the specified NCGA committees annually by October 1, beginning in the first year in which cannabis or cannabis-infused products are sold in medical cannabis centers. Authorizes DHHS to develop surveys for qualified patients, and the Commission to require completion of the survey by the patients.
Provides for construction of the Article. Provides a severability clause.
Amends GS 105-164.13 to exempt from sales tax cannabis or cannabis-infused products sold by a medical cannabis center to a registry identification cardholder.
Amends GS 106-121 (definitions under Food, Drugs, and Cosmetics Act) to exclude cannabis and cannabis-infused products manufactured by a production facility or sold by a medical cannabis center from the definition of the terms drug and food.
Effective December 1, 2023, amends GS 15A-974, regarding the exclusion or suppression of unlawfully obtained evidence. Adds new subsection (a1) to bar the suppression of evidence obtained as the result of a search that was supported by probable cause at the time of the search solely on the basis that either: (1) a subsequent determination that a substance believed to be a controlled substance at the time of the search was not a controlled substance; or (2) a subsequent determination that the presence of a controlled substance at the time of the search was not a violation of law.
Amends GS 90-87 to exclude from the defined term marijuana, an adequate supply of cannabis for medical use in compliance with new Article 5H.