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5 Things To Know: Medical Marijuana Clears Major Hurdle in N.C. Senate

...and four more stories from June 27-July 3, 2021

legalize marijuana in North Carolina, medical marijuana n.c.
Senate Bill 711 is causing a stir around medical marijuana in the N.C. Senate (Photo by Melissa Rustemov)

Medical Marijuana Clears Major Hurdle in N.C. Senate

An N.C. Senate committee on Wednesday approved bipartisan legislation that would create a structure for the manufacturing, licensing and sale of legalized medical marijuana in N.C. If passed, Senate Bill 711 would allow for marijuana use by people with qualified medical conditions. It would also limit the number of dispensaries allowed in North Carolina and put a 10% tax on marijuana products that would go to the state.

The bill still needs to pass through three committees before going to the Senate and then the House floor.  However, Wednesday’s approval by a bipartisan committee shows how support is growing for the legalization of medical marijuana in N.C. on both sides of the aisle in recent years.

For example, Senate Majority Leader Kathy Harrington, a Republican representing Gaston County, told her fellow committee members on Wednesday that her mind had changed on the issue over the past six months, during which her husband was diagnosed with multiple myeloma. 

“Life comes at you fast. I believe we’ve already had some moments in our lives where this type of medication would have assisted in some of the responses to the treatment,” Harrington said, referring to the treatments her husband has received already this year. 

Many advocates for the full legalization of marijuana have spoken out against this law, however, for reasons that were summed up well in this Twitter thread from the Charlotte-based Make Cannabis Legal Again PAC

Local Track Star Headed to Olympics

Charlotte native Gabbi Cunningham announced Friday that she will compete in the Tokyo Olympics.

Gabbi Cunningham (via Twitter)

As news of Sha’Carri Richardson’s 30-day Olympic suspension made headlines around the world on Friday, some believed Cunningham’s Twitter announcement meant she’d be replacing Richardson, when in fact she will replace reigning Olympic sprint hurdles champion Briana McNeal. McNeal’s appeal of a five-year ban for “tampering within the results management process” was upheld on Friday, opening the door for Cunningham. 

Cunningham, once a track star at Mallard Creek High School in Charlotte and then at NC State University, finished fourth at the Olympic Trials in Eugene, Oregon, on June 20. She will now join other Charlotte-area athletes at the Tokyo Olympics including Michael Smolen, 27, canoe; CPCC student Zach Lokken, 27, canoe; Hough High grad Erika Brown, 22, swimming; Caine Wilkes of Matthews, 33, weightlifting; and Providence Day School grad Anna Cockrell, 23, track and field. 

COVID Test-Positivity Sees Slight Increase

While the county saw no COVID-19 deaths this week and most metrics remained stable or improving, the test-positivity rate has begun to climb just a bit in recent weeks. 

According to the latest data from Mecklenburg County Public Health, released Friday, there had been 114,484 total cases of COVID-19 and 981 deaths related to the coronavirus in the county to that point, an increase of 400 cases but no deaths since the same time last week. There have been four deaths recorded in Mecklenburg County since June 11. 

medical marijuana n.c.
(Graph courtesy of MCPH)

According to more in-depth data for cases that had occurred through Wednesday, the county had seen a 3.1% test-positivity rate over the previous week, a slightly increasing trend compared to the previous two weeks. As of June 11, there was a 1.9% test-positivity rate. On average, there were 44 new laboratory-confirmed infections per day, a fairly stable trend compared to previous weeks. On average, 39 people were hospitalized on any given day due to COVID-19 over the past week, a decreasing trend, possibly thanks to the fact that those who are vaccinated may still become infected but rarely experience symptoms. 

MCPH also reported on Friday that 49% of the total population of Mecklenburg County (540,125 residents) had been at least partially vaccinated as of Wednesday, while 45% of Mecklenburg County’s total population (500,205 residents) had been fully vaccinated.

Mecklenburg County’s HOMES Program Accepting Applications

The application period has begun for homeowners to apply to receive benefits from the county’s HOMES Program, a public assistance program designed to help qualified low- to moderate-income Mecklenburg County homeowners keep their homes by providing financial assistance. 

The application period for 2021 began Thursday and will run through Oct. 31. Applications will be processed on a first-come, first-served basis until funds are exhausted. 

Grant funds will be paid to the Mecklenburg County Tax Collector, who will reduce the total amount of taxes due for qualifying recipients’ respective primary residences. The amount granted will be equal to 25% of the Mecklenburg County tax amount on the last available tax bill, rounded to the nearest dollar, not to exceed $340. 

One grant recipient from last year shared why she’s thankful for the grant money in a Thursday release. “The gentrification on my street is shocking,” Sherry Miller said. “I’m glad to have it.” 

Visit the county’s website to learn more details about the program, including eligibility requirements, and apply.

Homicide Total Reaches 53 for the Year

Two men were killed in separate shooting incidents this week, bringing the total number of illegal killings in Charlotte this year to 53. 

Shortly after 2:20 a.m. on Sunday, police responded to a shooting call at a shopping center on East Independence Boulevard near Zeus Street and found 31-year-old Emmanuel Gebru suffering from a gunshot wound. He was transported to the hospital by MEDIC, but later died. On Tuesday, police announced the arrest of a 24-year-old man, whom they charged with Gebru’s murder. 


Just after 10:45 p.m. on Tuesday, police responded to reports of someone having been shot on Mayfield Terrace Drive in the Nia Point Apartments in the Washington Heights neighborhood of northwest Charlotte. Responding officers found 20-year-old Joshua Hollingsworth suffering from a gunshot wound. MEDIC transported Hollingsworth to the hospital, where he later died. Police later charged a 24-year-old man with Hollingsworth’s murder, and a 17-year-old boy with accessory after the fact. 

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