Bills on Medical Marijuana and Sports Transparency Headed to the House

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The NC House committee’s first leg was set for Tuesday on two controversial Senate bills on medical marijuana and school sports and athletes’ birth sex.

Bipartisan Senate Bill 3, titled the “NC Compassionate Care Act,” is scheduled for a 10 am hearing in the House health committee — the first of three committees.

Republican-sponsored Senate Bill 636, titled “School Athletic Transparency,” is scheduled for a 1:00 pm hearing in the House K-12 Education Committee.

As of Friday’s legislative calendar, both bills are designated “for discussion only” and without a vote in committees, although that could change at the discretion of committee chairs.

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SB3 passed by a vote of 36 to 10 on March 1 – the second straight year the chamber has passed the legislation.

With the 2022 version of the legislation shelved by the House’s Republican leadership, it was unclear whether SB3 would be put through a committee, let alone move forward to a floor vote.

The Senate voted 30-20 along party lines on May 3 to advance SB636 out of the chamber.

Legislative analysts say House members are likely to amend the SB3 to add language that reflects a more conservative perspective on the issue, which the Senate may choose to reject and move to a concurrence committee for a possible deal.

The committee’s timeline comes as the 2023 session approaches what is expected to be its final weeks.

Both House Speaker Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, and Senate Leader Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, said that with the 2023-24 state budget entering the approval phase, they are projecting an end of June or early July for the formal part of the 2023 session.

medical marijuana

Senator Paul Lowe, D-Forsyth, is one of the top three sponsors of both marijuana bills, along with Republican Senators Bill Rabon of Brunswick County and Michael Lee of New Hanover County.

Potential opposition from Moore and House Majority Leader John Bell IV, R-Johnston, could derail SB3 in the House, said John Dinan, professor of political science at Wake Forest University and a national expert on state legislatures.

However, the Raleigh News & Observer quoted Moore as saying in February that the SB3 has “decent approval prospects” given the new House members elected in 2022.

“Last year, when we didn’t accept it, there was overwhelming opposition from most of the caucus,” Moore told the Raleigh newspaper.

“Attitudes have changed, and I think some people have had the opportunity, when they go back home and meet other people, to see that there are some potentially legitimate uses for it.”

SB3 would allow the use of medical marijuana for individuals with ALS, cancer, epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, post-traumatic stress disorder and other illnesses, but not for those suffering from chronic pain. Does not allow recreational use.

“It can help a lot of people at the end of their lives at a time when they need compassion…the time they have left should be as comfortable and easy as possible,” Rabon said.

“There is no one in this room who doesn’t have someone in their family, or a close friend, who could have benefited from this legislation.”

Opponents have expressed numerous concerns, including that the legislation would serve as a gateway to legalizing marijuana in North Carolina by 2024, and medical research is not definitive on users’ benefits.

Moore told the News & Observer that for a medical marijuana bill to pass the House, there would need to be “reasonable controls” and a balance to having enough distributors to prescribe and avoid a monopoly.

Rabon called SB711 “the most rigorous and well-written bill, looking at what other states have done wrong and trying to omit those pitfalls.”

sports transparency

SB636 was amended to reduce the transgender language in SB636 to just the phrase “biological participation requirements”.

Sawyer indicated that the language would be covered by Senate Bill 631, which specifically focuses on restricting eligibility for transgender middle and high school athletes.

That bill passed the Senate by a 29-18 vote on April 20. He wasn’t placed on a House committee until Friday.

If SB636 becomes law, North Carolina would be the 28th state to allow high school athletes to cash in on high school name, likeness and likeness permits.

SB636 was amended on the Senate floor to prohibit NIL authorizations by the NCHSAA.

The language was inserted in a section addressing the rules of student participation. The bill does not allow these rules to be delegated to a third-party administrative organization.

Instead, the State Board of Education would be responsible for providing such student participation rules authorizations, according to Senator Todd Johnson, R-Cabarrus.

This action was taken after the NCHSAA board of directors approved by a 15-3 vote authorizing NIL contracts for high school athletes, effective July 1.

The NCHSAA said athletes will only be able to profit from third-party organizations and cannot generate revenue from schools, school districts, conferences, the NCHSAA or the National Federation of State High School Associations, for example, which would suggest direct payment for playing practices .

NIL interactions must be separate from schools, and employees are not permitted to facilitate business, act as agents, or use NIL for recruitment or enrollment purposes, according to the council.

NIL agreement records for athletes shall be reported by the athlete’s school to the NCHSAA.

The NCHSAA reported on April 18 that its membership had reached the 75% threshold needed to pass the amendment of its bylaws to allow up to seven ratings.

There will be a cap of 64 schools across all classes, taking the NCHSAA to at least seven rankings with the start of the 2025-26 school year.

According to, the NCHSAA has not expanded the ratings since the 1969-70 school year. A similar proposal to expand the classification failed in 2020, with just 68% of members voting yes.

The Bylaws change also states that teams will be ranked exclusively by ADM (Average Daily Membership). The current model takes into account a school’s Wells Fargo Cup points and ISP data from the last three years.

SB636 would place limits on students who live in one school district but want to play sports in another.

They would be prohibited from doing so if it can be proved that school attendance is solely for athletics. Students who violate the proposed restriction will be ineligible to play in the postseason for an entire year.

A student eligible for priority enrollment in a charter school as the child of full-time employees would be ineligible for athletic teams if the enrollment is found to be fraudulent.

SB636 revives language that provides a demerit system for game infractions and rules of participation that still allow for player and team disqualifications and forfeits, but without monetary fines of any kind.

Students, parents, and schools could appeal sanctions to an appeals board established by the superintendent of public instruction.

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Bills on Medical Marijuana and Sports Transparency Headed to the House

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