Bill Summary for S 711 (2021)

Summary date: 

Aug 25 2021

Bill Information:

View NCGA Bill Details2021
Senate Bill 711 (Public) Filed Wednesday, April 7, 2021
AN ACT ENACTING THE NORTH CAROLINA COMPASSIONATE CARE ACT.
Intro. by Rabon, Lee, Lowe.

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Bill summary

Senate committee substitute to the 3rd edition makes the following changes.

Revises new Article 5H, the NC Compassionate Care Act, as follows. Makes organizational changes by renumbering the statutes in the Article; making conforming changes to internal cross-references. Makes the following revisions to the Article's defined terms. Changes the inclusive list of cannabis-infused products provided to now include a tablet, capsule, concentrated liquid or viscous oil, liquid suspension, topical preparation, transdermal preparation, sublingual preparation, gelatinous cube, gelatinous rectangular cuboid, lozenge in a cube or rectangular cuboid shape, resin or wax (was, edible cannabis product, topical product, ointment, oil, patch, spray, suppository, or tincture). Adds to the enumerated diagnoses included as a debilitating medical condition: (1) a terminal illness when the patient's remaining life expectancy is less than six months; and (2) a condition resulting in the individual receiving hospice care; no longer includes other debilitating conditions of the same kind or class as or comparable to those enumerated. Eliminates the requirement in the defined term for a physician to have completed a three hour continuing education course on cannabis and an annual one hour supplemental medical education course thereafter (see new GS 90-113.114 instead). Adds and defines smoking as the use or possession of a lighted cannabis product. Adds and defines vaping as the use of a product which heats a liquid or other form of cannabis in a manner so as to release an aerosol. Now requires a written certification to include the patient's debilitating medical condition, the amount and dosage of the cannabis or cannabis-infused product within an adequate supply, and the period of time for which the written certification is valid (not to exceed one year), in addition to the previously stated requirements, which include declaring that the patient has a debilitating medical condition whereby the potential benefits of the medical use of cannabis would likely outweigh the health risk for the patient, and stating the delivery method of the cannabis. 

Renames the Medical Cannabis Advisory Board as the Compassionate Use Advisory Board. Makes conforming changes throughout the Article to reflect the change. Clarifies that the gubernatorially appointed member who is a representative of a supplier must be licensed. Adds a new subsection to provide for filling member vacancies. 

Adds a new statute to the Article as follows. Requires physicians to complete a three-hour continuing medical education course on cannabis and an annual one-hour supplemental medical education course thereafter, as approved by the NC Medical Board. 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. Adds a new requirement for physicians to register written certifications in the medical cannabis registry database electronically. Requires physicians to reevaluate an existing qualified patient as needed to determine the efficacy of the use of cannabis as a treatment for the patient's medical condition, at least once a year, to include an in-person physical examination and checking of the patient's prescription history. Requires physicians to update the medical cannabis registry database within seven days after any change is made to the original written certification. Requires physicians to provide education to a qualified patient on the risk and symptoms of cannabis use disorder and cannabis-induced psychosis upon initial written certification and at least annually thereafter. Prohibits physicians who provide written certifications to qualified patients from being employed by or have any direct or indirect economic interest in a supplier or cannabis testing laboratory. Prohibits physicians from evaluating patients or advertising on the site of a medical cannabis center. Adds to the components that must be covered by rules required to be adopted by the NC Medical Care Commission to implement registry identification cards, now requiring adopted rules to include a limitation on the number of written certifications a physician can issue at any given time. Makes a technical change to eliminate the statutory requirement for the rules to be adopted within 270 days of the act's effective date, and instead provides an uncodified requirement for the NC Medical Care Commission to adopt such rules within 270 days of the date the act becomes law. 

Adds a new statute to the Article requiring registry identification 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. 

Makes organizational changes throughout the remaining content of the Article, with the following changes. 

Adds to the membership of the Medical Cannabis Production Commission (Commission), now totaling 11 members: (1) the Agriculture Commissioner, or designee, (2) a chief of police designated by the North Carolina Association of Chiefs of Police, and (3) a physician member of the NC Medical Board designated by the NC Medical Board. Grants authority for the Commission to suspend or revoke a medical cannabis supplier license if the Commission determines that the supplier is not in substantial compliance with the Chapter or with rules adopted by the Commission. Adds a new requirement for the Commission to give a supplier 14 days' notice of a proposed suspension or revocation, including basis and possible remedial options. Makes a technical change to eliminate the statutory requirement for the Commission to adopt rules implementing the medical cannabis supply system, supplier licensing, and supplier sales and supply restrictions within 270 days of the date the act becomes law, and instead provides an uncodified requirement for the Commission to adopt such rules within 270 days of the Commission's first meeting.

Divides the content of previous GS 90-113.120, Regulated medical cannabis supply system, now enacting the previous content in six distinct statutes, GS 90-113.119 through GS 90-113.123, GS 90-113.128 and GS 90-113.137, with the following changes. Makes a technical change to eliminate the statutory time period for the Commission to establish a medical cannabis supply system within 270 days of the date the act becomes law, and instead provides an uncodified requirement for the Commission to establish a system within 270 days of the Commission's first meeting.  Makes technical changes to consistently refer to suppliers rather than licensees. Clarifies that both applicants and suppliers are required to notify DHHS of any change in information submitted in a license application or renewal form within 30 days after the change. Makes technical changes to consistently refer to cannabis production rather than medical cannabis production. Eliminates the requirement for a supplier to grow cannabis in a controlled, secured environment and prohibits sites where cannabis is grown from being open to the public. Adds to the items the system revenues from license fees and monthly gross revenue fees are appropriated to the Commission to fund, to include the NC Cannabis Research Program established by the Article, limited to an amount of funding to be determined by the Commission, and subject to the priority given to costs associated with establishing and operating the regulated medical cannabis supply system, and the registry system. Makes further clarifying and organizational changes, including adding descriptive captions to subsections. Makes conforming changes to reflect organizational changes. 

Amends and adds to the proposed protections for the medical use of cannabis. Qualifies the requirement that the weight of other ingredients that are not usable cannabis cannot be included for the purpose of determining whether a qualified patient is in possession of an amount of cannabis that exceeds the qualified patient's adequate supply, limiting the restriction to when usable cannabis is infused or added as an ingredient to an edible cannabis product, salve, tincture, or any other preparation to be consumed or used by a qualified patient. Adds the following. Prohibits an employee, officer, or agent of the State who makes a finding, determination, or otherwise considers a qualified patient or designated caregiver's possession or use of cannabis, or a cannabis-infused product from considering such use or possession any differently than the lawful possession or use of any prescribed controlled substance if the qualified patient or designated caregiver's possession or use complies with the Article. 

Adds the following new statute. 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, (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 clarifying changes to the required determinations and actions of medical cannabis center employees prior to dispensing cannabis or cannabis-infused products to a registry identification cardholder. 

Enacts a new statute providing 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. Requires an individual to be 18 or older to enter a medical cannabis center, unless the individual is a registry identification cardholder. 

Revises and adds to the provisions governing advertising and packaging of cannabis and cannabis-infused products under the Article. Divides the previous substantive content of GS 90-113.126 into two distinct statutes, GS 90-113.131 and GS 90-113.132, with the following changes. Limits medical cannabis center signage to the center's name, logo, and hours of operation, notwithstanding local government ordinances prohibiting signage. Adds new authority for medical cannabis centers to maintain a website that includes specified information, including the logo and hours of operation, the product or service available, affiliated personnel, best practices the center upholds, and education materials. Adds a new provision directing DHHS to adopt rules to define standards for a medical cannabis center's name, signage, and logo to ensure a medical rather than recreational disposition. 

Regarding the disposal of cannabis, more specifically requires a medical cannabis center to destroy all cannabis and cannabis-infused products that are not sold to registry identification cardholders (was, qualifying patients or designated caregivers) in accordance with DHHS rules. 

Adds to the guidelines for the construction of the Article to prohibit construction of the Article to (1) impair the ability of any party to prohibit or limit smoking or vaping of cannabis on his or her private property, or (2) impair the ability of a community association to prohibit or limit sampling or vaping of cannabis in a common area through the community association's declaration or bylaws. 

Adds new uncodified content to require initial appointments to the Compassionate Use Advisory Board and the Medical Cannabis Production Commission under the Article be made within 45 days after the effective date of the act. Provides guidelines for the appointment of members to staggered terms, with terms ranging from one year to four years, as specified. Requires the Medical Cannabis Production Commission to hold their first meeting within 60 days of the date the act becomes law. 

Updates statutory cross-references in new GS 105-164.13(13e).

Further amends GS 106-121 (definitions under Food, Drugs, and Cosmetics Act) to also exclude cannabis from the defined terms drug and food. Updates statutory cross-references. 

Effective December 1, 2021, 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. 

Updates statutory cross-references in the proposed changes to GS 90-87(16). 

Eliminates the proposed repeal of Sections 8.5(a) and 8.5(b) of S.L. 2015-154, which repeal Article 5G of GS Chapter 90 (Epilepsy Alternative Treatment Act), effective July 1, 2021.

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