What is the status of medical marijuana legalization in North Carolina?
As Americans across the country observe 4/20, a day that recognizes cannabis, North Carolina remains one of only 13 states who have not legalized medical marijuana.
That may not be the case for long.
A bill in the North Carolina Senate, the North Carolina Compassionate Lawwould make medical marijuana legal for a select group of people diagnosed with certain medical conditions.
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This bill was stalled in the Senate in the summer of 2021, and it has not yet been put to a new vote. He is backed by two powerful state Republicans, the Sens. Bill Rabon (R-Southport) and Michael Lee (R-Wilmington), the main sponsors of the bill.
The Senate is expected to consider the bill in 2022, in a short session scheduled to begin May 18, following the statewide primary on May 17.
One of the bill’s sponsors, Sen. Wiley Nickel (D-Cary), said he doesn’t expect much news before the session begins, but he’s optimistic the bill will pass. law, he said. North Carolina Health News.
“This is a bill that’s headed in the right direction, with a lot of strong and significant support in a bipartisan way,” Nickel said. “And I’m hopeful that we will pass this bill when we return.”
Liz Sharpe, spokeswoman for one of the bill’s main sponsors, Sen. Paul Lowe (D-Winston Salem), said in an email that no action has been taken on the bill. since August due to the redistricting and the state budget, but “we hope to move the bill forward!
The bill has majority support in North Carolina, according to a poll conducted by WRAL News. The SurveyUSA survey found that 72% of North Carolina residents support the legalization of medical marijuana.
Support for medical marijuana is high across the political spectrum. The poll found that 64% of registered Republicans, 75% of registered Democrats and 78% of unaffiliated voters supported legalization.
What’s in the bill?
The Compassionate Care Act would make North Carolina “the most conservative state” of states with laws legalizing medical marijuana “with” a very, very narrowly tailored focus only on people with chronic conditions, end care of life,” Nickel said during a Judiciary Committee hearing on the bill last summer.
Rabon called the bill “the most tightly regulated and controlled bill of its kind”, during a committee hearing.
According to the bill, only people diagnosed by a doctor with a “debilitating medical condition,” including cancer, epilepsy, positive HIV or AIDS status or post-traumatic stress disorder, would be eligible for a medical marijuana card.
If passed, the bill would also establish an advisory committee that would report on the program’s effectiveness each year and monitor medical marijuana cards and the doctors who issue the cards.
It would also establish a program within the University of North Carolina system to research cannabis as a medical product.
Marijuana as medicine
Medical marijuana has benefits and risks, as there are for most drugs, said Keith Humphreysprofessor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Stanford University, in a march webinar hosted by the Office of Attorney General Josh Stein.
the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not yet approved cannabis for specific medical conditions, as it is still completing medical research on the impact of cannabis for medical use.
However, a cannabis-derived product, Epidiolex, has been approved by the FDA for certain seizure disorders. Three synthetic cannabis-related products – Marinol, Syndros and Cesamet – have also been approved.
Humphreys predicted that more drugs made from cannabis will be made.
“There’s no reason to be afraid of cannabis-based medicine,” Humphreys said.
Does this mean recreational marijuana is going to be legalized?
Some people may oppose the legalization of marijuana for medical purposes because they don’t want it to lead to the legalization of marijuana for recreational use.
Legalizing the recreational use of marijuana has received less support than medical marijuana from North Carolina residents in the WRAL/Survey USA poll. Nonetheless, more than half of North Carolina residents surveyed – 57% – agreed that recreational marijuana should be legalized.
The key lawmakers behind the bill have made it clear that they do not support the legalization of recreational marijuana.
“Recreational marijuana is not what we want in our state,” Lee said during the Judiciary Committee hearing.
As of November 2021, 18 states had taken steps to legalize recreational marijuana, less than half of the 37 states that have legalized medical marijuana.
Access THC in NC
As state lawmakers craft a narrowly tailored medical marijuana bill, people in North Carolina can walk into a store right now and buy products containing THC, the substance primarily responsible for the impact of marijuana on a person’s mental state.
Delta-8 THC, a hemp-derived product with a similar chemical structure to Delta-9 THC, the compound found in marijuana, is widely available in North Carolina, North Carolina Health News Previously reported.
the Farm Bill 2018passed by the US Congress, makes this possible by creating a loophole that companies use to sell CBD-derived products containing less than 0.3% THC.
Delta-8 THC has psychoactive effects similar to Delta-9 THC, and it can have intoxicating effects or make users “high”.
the The FDA has not approved or evaluated Delta-8 THC products. and warns against using these products for medical purposes, particularly because their production is unregulated and they could be manufactured in “uncontrolled or unsanitary environments,” according to the FDA.
Medical marijuana is also already legal in some North Carolina tribal lands.
The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, located in the westernmost part of North Carolina, legalized medical marijuana in August 2021, as well as possession of up to one ounce of marijuana on tribal land.
North Carolina Health News is an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit news organization dedicated to covering all things health care in North Carolina. Visit the NCHN at northcarolinahealthnews.org.