The North Carolina Senate on Monday night passed a bill legalizing medical marijuana for the third consecutive year.

However, according to Raleigh TV station WRAL, the prospects of the “strictest-ever” medical cannabis bill passing the state House of Representatives is another matter.

The House has blocked medical cannabis legislation the past two years.

Exemption from federal moves proposed

And passage might prove difficult again this year, even with measures intended to satisfy conservative-minded lawmakers, including a provision exempting North Carolina from any potential change in the status of marijuana at the federal level.

Under that provision, any possible rescheduling of marijuana or move to legalize the drug nationwide would not change North Carolina’s drug laws.

Instead, the state General Assembly would then have to pass a law legalizing marijuana.

If passed, the current medical marijuana bill would authorize North Carolina regulators to award up to 10 business licenses from a pool of no more than 20 applicants selected by a state cannabis commission.

Each of those vertically integrated license holders would be allowed to operate up to eight MMJ dispensaries.

License fees would be $50,000, plus an extra $5,000 for each proposed retail site.

Though there’s a good chance the MMJ measure would pass the House, it’s still unclear if Speaker Tim Moore will allow a vote, WRAL reported.

In the past two years, Moore has declined to schedule a vote, saying too many Republican colleagues were opposed.

Meanwhile, medical marijuana already is available on Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians land on the Qualla Boundary because Native American tribes are not subject to state laws.

The tribe also has approved adult-use cannabis sales, though a launch date is uncertain.

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