Medical marijuana, schools of deaf and blind bills head pass third readings

The North Carolina General Assembly. Photo via A.P. Dillon/North State Journal

RALEIGH — A bill dealing with medical marijuana use and a bill reorganizing the governing structure of schools in the state for the deaf and blind have passed third readings and will head to the opposite chambers for further action. 

Senate Bill 3, called the Compassionate Care Act, deals with the legalization of the use of marijuana and cannabis-infused products for medical purposes by patients with debilitating medical conditions.  

Michael Lee (R-New Hanover) and Paul Lowe (D-Forsyth) filed the measure, which was one of the many bills filed on the first day of business at the legislature this session. 

The Compassionate Care Act cleared a second reading in the Senate with large bipartisan support on Feb. 18 by a vote of 36-10.  

The 10 who voted no on the bill were all Republicans, including Ted Alexander (R-Cleveland), Jim Burgin (R-Harnett), Warren Daniel (R-Burke), Carl Ford (R-Rowan), Steve Jarvis (R-Davidson), Joyce Krawiec (R-Forsyth), Tom McInnis (R-Moore), Brad Overcash (R-Gaston), Norman Sanderson (R-Pamlico) and Eddie Settle (R-Wilkes). 

The measure passed its third reading on March 1 and will head to the House for various committees to consider before a final vote is taken in that chamber. 

House Bill 11, Schools for the Deaf and Blind, is a repeat bill from the previous session. The bill creates a board of trustees for each of the schools for the deaf and blind and provides for governance of those schools by the new boards. If passed, the change will take effect during the 2024-25 school year. 

The bill passed its second and third readings on March 1 and will head to the Senate. 

The second reading vote tally was 71-45 with three Democrats voting in favor: Tricia Cotham (Mecklenburg), Garland Pierce (Scotland) and Michael Wray (Northampton).  

Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper had vetoed the former version, Senate Bill 593. In his veto message, Cooper objected to a single part of the bill — the creation of a dedicated board of trustees for the school.  

An override of the veto was not attempted despite lawmakers being urged to do so in a letter from State Superintendent Catherine Truitt.   

“[Cooper’s] rationale had nothing to do with the merits of the bill but was instead about the appointments process,” Truitt wrote in her letter to Senate Leader Phil Berger (R-Eden) and House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Kings Mountain).  

This session’s version of the bill will likely result in another veto given the governor’s past protestations and Cooper’s recently formed governance board designed to challenge control over the UNC system appointments. 

About A.P. Dillon 884 Articles
A.P. Dillon is a North State Journal reporter located near Raleigh, North Carolina. Find her on Twitter: @APDillon_