Bill Summary for H 929 (2021)

Summary date: 

May 12 2021

Bill Information:

View NCGA Bill Details2021
House Bill 929 (Public) Filed Tuesday, May 11, 2021
AN ACT LEGALIZING THE MEDICAL USE OF CANNABIS; DIRECTING THE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE AND CONSUMER SERVICES TO ADOPT RULES ESTABLISHING A LICENSING PROCESS FOR THE CULTIVATION OF MEDICAL CANNABIS AND THE MANUFACTURING OF MEDICAL CANNABIS PRODUCTS; DIRECTING THE NORTH CAROLINA ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGE CONTROL COMMISSION TO ADOPT RULES FOR THE ESTABLISHMENT, LICENSING, AND OPERATION OF MEDICAL CANNABIS DISPENSARIES; ESTABLISHING AND APPROPRIATING FUNDS FOR A SOCIAL EQUITY REINVESTMENT GRANT PROGRAM TO ENCOURAGE PARTICIPATION IN THE MEDICAL CANNABIS INDUSTRY BY INDIVIDUALS HIT HARDEST BY THE WAR ON CANNABIS; EXPUNGING MISDEMEANOR AND FELONY MARIJUANA OFFENSES; SPECIFYING UNLAWFUL CONDUCT INVOLVING THE MEDICAL USE OF CANNABIS; TAXING MEDICAL MARIJUANA; AND ESTABLISHING A UNIVERSITY CANNABIS EQUITY INVESTMENT FUND.
Intro. by Alexander, Harrison, Cunningham, Carney.

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Bill summary

Part I.

Enacts new Article 43, Medical Cannabis, to GS Chapter 90. Provides broad civil and criminal immunity, as well as immunity from professional discipline, for a person for purchasing or possessing cannabis for medical use by a qualified patient if the quantity does not exceed an adequate supply, defined to mean, among other things, amount of usable cannabis derived solely from an intrastate source that does not exceed what is reasonably necessary to assure the uninterrupted availability of cannabis for a period of three months, as determined by the qualified patient's physician and the qualified patient is in possession of a written certification from a physician. Defines qualified patient as a person who has been diagnosed by a physician as having a debilitating medical condition. Defines written certification to mean a statement in a patient's medical records or a statement signed by a health care provider with whom the patient has a bona fide health care provider-patient relationship indicating that, in the health care provider's professional opinion, the patient has a medical condition that may benefit from the medical use of cannabis and the potential health benefits of the medical use of cannabis would likely outweigh the health risks for the patient. Also provides immunity and protection from penalties for medical care providers for conduct consistent with the act.

Directs the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to adopt rules for licensing medical cannabis cultivation and manufacturing of medical cannabis products, including six required components such as licensing applications and annual renewal fees, and regulation of packaging and labeling of medical cannabis and medical cannabis products. Directs DACS to adopt the required rules and report to the NCGA by January 31, 2023.

Directs the ABC Commission to adopt rules for the establishment, licensing, and operation of medical cannabis dispensaries by January 1, 2023, including fees associated with license applications. Authorizes a local ABC board to establish and operate one medical dispensary for each ABC store operated by the local board, or enter into a joint venture with an eligible social equity recipient to establish and operation a dispensary. Requires dispensaries established and operated by ABC boards to be located no less than 1,000 feet away from an ABC store, an independent dispensary, an elementary or secondary school, or a religious institution. 

Defines eligible social equity recipient to mean an applicant for a medical cannabis cultivation and manufacturing license for which at least 66% of ownership interest in the applicant has (1) a prior conviction for simple possession of cannabis; (2) a family member with a conviction for simple possession of cannabis; (3) residence in an area that is economically distressed, or with disproportionate number of arrests for cannabis violations, as specified; or (4) a degree from a public or private historically black college or university. Directs DACS to establish the Social Equity Business Development Grant Program to provide grants and low interest loans to an eligible social equity recipient using $250,000 annually from the medical cannabis cultivation and manufacturing licensing fees collected. Establishes three eligible uses of the grants, including elimination or amelioration of barriers to licensing. Directs DACS to annually report on the Program to specified NCGA committee chairs and division. Details required content of the reports. 

Part II.

Enacts GS 15A-145.8B, mandating the automatic expunction of convictions for misdemeanor marijuana or hashish convictions under GS 90-95(a)(3), or marijuana drug paraphernalia convictions under GS 90-113.22A, by December 31, 2024. Charges clerks of superior court with reviewing cases to determine eligibility and to prepare and complete orders of expungement, forwarding petitions to the Administrative Office of the Courts. Provides for expungement of related government records, except DNA records and samples stored, and reversal of administration actions taken as a result from the charges or convictions expunged. Provides for the effect of the expunction. Makes it a Class 1 misdemeanor for any person having or acquiring access to a record expunged under the statute to disclose expunged information, unless by court order. Prohibits employers or educational institutions from requiring disclosure of expunged information.

Enacts GS 15A-145.8C, providing for a person convicted of felony possession of marijuana under GS 90-95 to petition a court for expunction of the offense and any other official record containing related information along with a $100 fee after five years of the date of conviction or after any active sentence, period of probation, or post-release supervision has been served, whichever is later. Provides for the form of the petition and hearing requirements. For a court to order expunction, requires the court to find that the continued existence and possible dissemination of information relating to the conviction causes or may cause circumstances that constitute a manifest injustice to the petitioner. Provides for expungement of related government records, except DNA records and samples stored, and reversal of administration actions taken as a result from the charges or convictions expunged. Provides for the effect of the expunction. Makes it a Class 1 misdemeanor for any person having or acquiring access to a record expunged under the statute to disclose expunged information, unless by court order. Prohibits employers or educational institutions from requiring disclosure of expunged information.

Effective December 1, 2021. 

Part III.

Enacts GS 20-138.8, making it a Class 3 misdemeanor to use or consume medical cannabis while driving or being a passenger in a motor vehicle on a highway or right-of-way. Provides three circumstances that together permit a trier of fact in a prosecution under the statute to infer that the person has consumed medical cannabis in violation of the statute. Effective December 1, 2021.

Part IV.

Enacts Article 41A, Medical Cannabis, GS Chapter 14, providing for the following offenses. 

Makes it unlawful to consume medical cannabis or offer medical cannabis to another at or in any public place, punishable by a fine of up to $25 for a first offense, a fine of up to $25 and ordered entry in a substance abuse treatment program and/or education program for a second offense, and a Class 3 misdemeanor on the third or subsequent offense. 

Makes it a Class A1 misdemeanor to possess or consume any medical cannabis in or upon the grounds of any public elementary or secondary school during schools hours or school activities, and allows for a sentence of imprisonment for up to 180 days.

Makes it an infraction for persons under 18 to possess or consume medical cannabis, and requires ordered entry in a substance abuse program and/or education program.

Makes it a Class A1 misdemeanor for medical cannabis to be imported, shipped, transported, or brought into the State, and allows imprisonment of up to one year.

Effective December 1, 2021.

Part V.

Enacts Article 2E, Medical Marijuana, to GS Chapter 105 as follows. Levies a 10% tax on the sale of cannabis for medical use by a dispensary in addition to other federal, State, or local taxes. Requires net proceeds from the tax to be credited with 50% to the General Fund, and the remainder to the University Cannabis Equity Investment Fund. Excludes sales from one dispensary to another; sales of industrial hemp by a grower, processor, or dealer under GS Chapter 106; or sales of industrial hemp extract or food containing industrial hemp extract under GS Chapter 106. Authorizes local governments to levy a 2% sales tax, and allows for joint jurisdiction of a county and municipality to levy the tax. Provides for administration of the tax, and allows for use of the local tax proceeds for any public purpose. Makes conforming changes. Makes conforming changes to the definition of marijuana under GS 105-113.106.

Establishes the University Cannabis Equity Investment Fund as a special fund in the Office of the UNC President, with allocations made at the discretion of the Cannabis Equity Reinvestment Fund Committee. Requires 40% of fund proceeds to be used for research of medical cannabis under UNC Hospitals only, with the remainder used for four authorized purposes, including low-interest loans to social equity applicants for licensure under new GS 90-730.3 and contributions to the State's legal services program for indigents. Provides for membership and meetings of the Cannabis Equity Reinvestment Fund Committee. Appropriates funds remitted to the Fund from sales taxes, as enacted. Establishes an annual financial reporting requirement of the Committee to the specified NCGA committee and the Office of State Budget and Management. 

Effective January 1, 2021. 

Part VI.

Appropriates $1 million from the General Fund to DACS for 2021-22, with $500,000 to be used for planning and rule development for licensing and social equity programs pursuant to new GS 90-730.2, and $500,000 to be used to establish and operate the Equity Business Development Grant Program. Effective July 1, 2021. 

Part VII.

Provides that the act is effective December 1, 2021, unless otherwise provided.  

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