Under the Dome: Medical marijuana’s future is murky

Good morning! ☀️ Here’s what you need to know about North Carolina politics today, from our team and correspondent Stephanie Loder.


The Republican controlled North Carolina General Assembly is deadlocked over the state budget, similar to this time last year.

There’s no law to force the legislature to pass a budget by the end of the fiscal year on June 30, and a two-year budget is already in place, so it’s anyone’s guess what happens next. Here’s a look at the possibilities:

  • Legislators could finally reach agreement on whether to give state employees and public school teachers additional raises, among other sticking points, and pass a budget that would also add taxpayer funding for private schools and grants for child care centers.

  • Or, they could finish most of their other work next week, then go home the week of July 4.

Budget negotiations between the Senate and House dragged out all summer long in 2023 before a two-year spending plan was passed in the fall.

Get the full story from Dawn Baumgartner Vaughan here.


Three proposed amendments to the state constitution were advanced Thursday by Republican lawmakers who want to see them on the Nov. 5 ballot.

The proposed amendments focus on income tax, voter eligibility and voter ID and would:

  • Lower to 5% the maximum rate for the state’s income tax, which is already set at 4.5%.

  • Clarify that only citizens can vote in North Carolina elections. It’s currently illegal for a noncitizen to vote.

  • Clarify that voter ID is required for mail-in voting as well as in-person voting, even though state law already requires ID for voting.

The three proposed amendments are just a way to drive conservatives to the voting booth since none of the amendments would bring real change to existing state law, critics contend.

However, Sen. Brad Overcash, a Gaston County Republican, said the state belongs to the people and the proposed amendments are a way to “empower the people of North Carolina to amend their own constitution.”

Get the full story from Kyle Ingram here.

Speaker Tim Moore on medical marijuana

A bill that would legalize medical marijuana, regulate hemp and ban kratom, xylazine and tianeptine cleared an initial vote in the Senate on Thursday. Should House Bill 563 pass a final vote, it would go back to the House for approval.

But its chances there are murky.

The House drafted the initial version of HB 563 without including legalization. But on Wednesday, during a Senate judiciary committee, Republican senators amended the bill to add legalization by tacking on the NC Compassionate Care Act, a bill that has cropped up over the years but has failed to pass the House.

Before the Senate’s vote, House Speaker Tim Moore said that he supports the Compassionate Care Act and that he has “distant family members and cousins, who I believe probably use it, and I know there are folks who suffer from PTSD and other conditions” who say it helps them, he said.

But “when we caucused this bill last year and when we got a count, there were not 37 yes votes on the bill,” he said. The House has a rule that the majority of Republicans need to support a bill for it to move forward, Moore said.

Asked about the bill’s chance this year, Moore said “We haven’t caucused. So I don’t know.”

Sen. Bill Rabon, a main sponsor of the Compassionate Care Act, speaking on his experience battling stage-three colon cancer and using marijuana illegally, said during a rules committee meeting Thursday: “I was close to death a long time ago, and I would have died had I not broken the law, and I had not taken the advice of my health care provider and gotten a cannabis product. I was ready to give up.”

“You can sit there and say ‘ohh,’” but, no. I lived it. If you haven’t lived it, don’t tell me what it is. I was in it. So that’s the way I feel about it and I’m going to push it and I’m gonna stay in this legislature until it passes.”

— Luciana Perez Uribe Guinassi


A new property tax for parts of west Raleigh won’t move forward after disapproval from business owners and Republican N.C. Sen. Jim Perry.

The city had planned to vote on Tuesday to create a new tax district near PNC Arena — which is being renovated with land nearby redeveloped — the N.C. Museum of Art and the Blue Ridge Road corridor.

But business owners reached out to Perry, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, and said the tax was something they don’t need and don’t want.

“We don’t want to stand by and have anyone paying any tax, especially something so, seemingly, unnecessary,” Perry said.

Get the full story froom Anna Roman here.


North Carolina has proposed new vaping rules – tacked on to an existing bill regarding the Wake County school system’s two leadership academies – that would stop e-cigarette products from being sold.

Legislation backed by the state Senate on Thursday would create a vaping registry which means only federally authorized vaping products could be sold in the state.

Sen. Michael Lee, a New Hanover County Republican, says the state needs the legislation to protect people from dangerous vaping use. Joe Palmer of Lincolnton, who spoke Wednesday on behalf of families affected by the vaping changes, told lawmakers the bill will cost people their jobs.

Get the full story from T. Keung Hui here.


State lawmakers could require North Carolina high schools to accept cash from people who want to attend athletic events.

The N.C. Senate backed legislation Thursday that requires cash to be one of the accepted forms of payment for admission to interscholastic athletic events. Rep. Reece Pyrtle, a Rockingham County Republican, said Wednesday the legislation is needed because some high schools switched to electronic-only payment methods during the pandemic.

“Oftentimes you have kids or senior adults that don’t have the resources or are as technology savvy as one needs to be to download an app, enter your credit card and buy a ticket to enter an high school athletic event,” said Pyrtle, one of House Bill 38’s primary sponsors.

The bill had been overwhelmingly approved in the House last year.

On Wednesday, Alamance County Republican Sen. Amy Galey amended the bill to add an expansion of N.C. Teaching Fellows scholarship eligibility and a provision that would let UNC System athletic departments keep the unspent revenue they’re getting from the sports wagering law. Galey said the changes are technical, noncontroversial and time-sensitive.

Sen. Kandie Smith, a Pitt County Democrat, questioned not getting the amendment ahead of the committee meeting. Sen. Michael Lee, the committee co-chair, apologized, saying “things are moving fast” at this point in the legislative session.

– T. Keung Hui

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