Who knows how it happened. Maybe the Republicans who control the North Carolina General Assembly have already gotten everything they’ve wanted on their wish lists and have no other ideas. Maybe it’s because NC leadership doesn’t mind being among the last states to enter into modernity, just not the last. Or maybe, finally, someone among them finally did the math.

Either way, the NC Senate has indicated a move forward on both medical marijuana legislation and an expansion of Medicaid, more than 12 years after the passing of the Affordable Care Act that created Obamacare and gave medical relief to more than 30 million Americans who really needed it.

Remember, this is the Senate: Phil Berger’s joint, where he’s waged a stalwart war against progress since 2001, when he was an acolyte of Rep. Virginia Foxx, who also got her start in the NC Senate. His ascension to the post of President Pro Tempore of the Senate in 2011 marked a firehose of deep-red pablum for the Obama-hating masses that included the Bathroom Bill, failed Voter ID laws, illegal districts, the politicization of the UNC System and other bits of reactionary political actions too numerous to list here.

What does it say when even Berger is starting to come around?

The marijuana bill — which its boosters prefer to call “cannabis” — has passed the Senate and awaits House action. It would be the most restrictive in the nation, meant solely for people with terminal illnesses, chronic conditions, PTSD and debilitating symptoms. Thus far, 38 states have passed legislation legalizing cannabis to some degree; 19 have passed recreational cannabis laws, including Virginia where, we’re told, the dispensaries will open in 2024.

The Medicaid-expansion bill may be more seismic. Thus far 39 states have passed legislation to include federal Medicaid funds in their overall healthcare portfolios, and though it, too has passed the Senate, House Speaker Tim Moore has said that he’ll likely table a final vote until next year.

When it comes to the bottom 10 percent, we’re at the top of the list!

But both of these measures represent “cracks in the windshield,” as they say in policy circles. The cannabis bill is designed to change as soon as the federal laws more accurately reflect reality. And the Medicaid bill has always been an inevitability, economically speaking. It has cost us more than $18 billion — NC Health News puts it at $1-2 billion per year that could have been absorbed by Medicaid expansion.

Under Phil Berger’s watch, these developments are practically revolutionary. But even he must eventually reconcile with reality, which has a well known progressive bias.

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