AN ACT ENACTING THE NORTH CAROLINA MEDICAL CANNABIS ACT.
Adds new Article 43, North Carolina Medical Cannabis Act, to GS Chapter 90. Provides legislative findings. Provides broad civil and criminal immunity for a "qualified patient" or a "designated caregiver" for purchasing or possessing cannabis for medical use if the quantity does not exceed an "adequate supply" for the patient as determined by his or her 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 needed for a three-month period and not more than 24 ounces. Requires the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to issue "registry identification cards" to persons who qualify as qualified patients or designated caregivers, and provides that a card creates a rebuttable presumption of permissible use if the person does not possess more than an adequate supply. Specifies conditions under which provisions of the act are applicable to minors. Prohibits a school, employer, or landlord from refusing to enroll, employ, or lease to, or to otherwise penalize, a person because of his or her status under the act or the permissible possession or use of cannabis. Also provides immunity and protection from penalties for licensed producers of medical cannabis and for physicians for conduct consistent with the act. Provides other protections relating to conduct of law enforcement, child custody or visitation, constructive possession, and the unauthorized substances tax.
The act does not permit a person to control a motor vehicle, aircraft, or motorboat while impaired by cannabis; undertake any task under the influence of cannabis that would constitute negligence or malpractice; or smoke cannabis in a school bus or on public transportation, on school grounds, in a correctional facility, or in any public place in the state. No government-sponsored medical assistance program or private health insurer is required by the act to cover costs of medical use of cannabis, and an employer is not required to accommodate use in the workplace. Makes fraudulent representation to law enforcement of any fact relating to medical use of cannabis to avoid arrest or prosecution a Class 2 misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $500 and any other applicable penalty. Specifies criteria and procedures for DHHS issuance or renewal of registry identification cards and requires that DHHS maintain a confidential list of persons to whom cards are issued. Allows DHHS to verify for law enforcement whether a card is valid and to report to law enforcement about falsified or fraudulent information submitted to DHHS. Makes violation of the confidentiality provision a Class 1 misdemeanor, subject to a fine of up to $1,000.
Directs the NC Medical Care Commission to adopt rules to implement the provisions regarding registry cards, establishing requirements for the issuance of registry identification cards to qualified patients and designated caregivers who meet certain minimum specifications. Requires the rules be adopted no later than 120 days after the effective date of the act.
Directs the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to establish a medical cannabis supply system to provide a safe, regulated supply of cannabis appropriate for medical use by qualified patients with a valid registry identification card and to generate revenue sufficient to maintain and operate the system. Prohibits use of appropriations from the General Fund to establish or operate the system, which must be funded by authorized fees. Establishes criteria for licensing of medical cannabis supply centers (for the sale of cannabis, cannabis-infused products, and related paraphernalia to qualified patients and caregivers holding a valid registry identification card), producers of medical cannabis, and producers of cannabis-infused products, as well as for suspending or revoking licenses. Requires the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to maintain a confidential list of licensees and specifies when it may release information to law enforcement. Requires the Board of Agriculture, in consultation with the Medical Care Commission, to adopt rules to implement the supply system, and provides for temporary rules in the interim. Specifies when medical use of cannabis may be asserted by qualified patients and caregivers as an affirmative defense to a criminal charge. Expresses the General Assembly's intent that the University of North Carolina system undertake scientific research regarding the efficacy and safety of the medical use of cannabis and, subject to approval by the UNC Board of Governors, directs the university to create the North Carolina Cannabis Research Program. Provides a severability clause. Directs the Department of Health and Human Services to issue temporary certificates for participation in the regulation medical supply system, as established, in the manner specified, and maintain a list of all temporary certificates issued. Makes conforming changes to GS 106-121 (definitions under Food, Drugs, and Cosmetics Act). Amends GS 105-164.4(a) to impose a privilege tax of 5 percent on specified cannabis sales.