HICKORY, N.C. (WJZY) — Could medical marijuana be coming to North Carolina? That’s the hope for cannabis growers, sellers, and consumers gathering in Hickory for the Carolinas Cannabusiness Expo this weekend.

This comes just a few weeks before the Hemp Farm Bill is set to expire, while a new bill legalizing medical marijuana in North Carolina remains in the works. CBD, Hemp, Delta8, and more were on full display at the conference on Friday.

“We decided to put on this event basically as an educational informative conference about you know, the different areas of the industry, both from a retail and distribution aspect, but also to the infrastructure that goes behind the entire cannabis business,” David Nieland, from Carolinas Cannabusiness explained. 

Growers, sellers, consumers, and innovators all agreed on one thing, the legalization of medical marijuana. Industry experts say SB 711, the Compassionate Care Act, in the NCGA is gaining traction. 

SB 711 gives people with certain medical conditions access to medical marijuana. 

“Currently, those conditions include things like cancer, multiple sclerosis, PTSD, there’s 13 different conditions that you’d have to go to a qualified doctor that keeps particular records that would then provide a essentially a prescription and then allowed someone to get a card that would then allow them to purchase from a medical marijuana facility,” said Matthew Rodgers, an attorney in Hickory. 

The bill has yet to pass, but recent polls say around 74% of North Carolinians support it. 

“I think it would be a good thing for marijuana to be legal in North Carolina. We make a bunch of holistic products for people that are concerned about their health,” Joe Fox, President of Alpines Hemp said. 

But some lawmakers are critical of the bill, and the impact it might have on North Carolina. Representative Jeffrey McNeely, the Vice Chair of the House Agriculture Committee, said he understands the benefits of medical marijuana, but still doesn’t plan on voting for SB 711.

“It would allow for people to be able to either take it by pill or smoke. And I think what we’re doing there is we’re just letting the camel get his nose under the tent. Because I do not believe in legalizing marijuana for the state of North Carolina for recreational use. So, I’m afraid that, I struggle with the way they’ve got it written as far as medical,” McNeely said. 

McNeely made it clear legislators do plan on voting to keep the Hemp Farm Bill and will do so before it expires at the end of June.