As Americans across the country note 4/20, the day cannabis is recognized, North Carolina still stands One of only 13 states that have not legalized medical marijuana.
This may not be the case for long.
A bill in the North Carolina Senate, the Compassionate NC Law would make medical marijuana legal for a narrowly formulated group of people with certain medical conditions.
This bill stalled in the Senate in the summer of 2021, and has yet to be voted on again. It is backed by two of the state’s most powerful Republicans, Senators Bill Rapun (R-Southport) and Michael Lee (R-Wilmington), the bill’s primary sponsors.
The Senate is expected to adopt the bill in 2022, during a short session scheduled to begin May 18, after the statewide primary on May 17.
One of the bill’s sponsors, Senator Willie Nickell (D-Curry), said he doesn’t expect much news until the hearing begins, but is optimistic that the law will pass, he said. NC Health News.
“This is a bill going in the right direction, with a lot of good and important support in a bipartisan way,” Nickell said. “And I’m very optimistic that we’ll pass that law when we get back.”
Liz Sharpe, a spokeswoman for one of the bill’s primary sponsors, Senator Paul Lowe (Democrat Winston Salem), said in an email that no action has been taken on the bill since August due to redistricting and the state budget, but we “hope to move the bill!” ”
The bill has the support of a majority of North Carolina residents, according to One poll by WRAL News. SurveyUSA It found that 72 percent 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 percent of registered Republicans, 75 percent of registered Democrats, and 78 percent of unaffiliated voters support legalization.
What is on the bill?
Nickel told a judicial panel that the Compassionate Care Act would make North Carolina “the most conservative” state among states that legalize medical marijuana “with a very narrow focus on people with chronic illnesses and end-of-life care.” Listen on the bill last summer.
Rapon described the bill as “the most regulated and controlled bill of its kind”, At the committee hearing.
Only people diagnosed by a doctor with a “debilitating medical condition” including cancer, epilepsy, HIV, AIDS or post-traumatic stress disorder, will be eligible for a medical marijuana card, according to the bill.
If passed, the bill would also set up an advisory committee that would report on the program’s effectiveness annually and track medical marijuana cards and the doctors who issue the cards.
It will also establish a program in the University of North Carolina system to research cannabis as a medicinal product.
Marijuana as medicine
He said there are benefits and risks to medical marijuana as there are to most medicines Keith HumphriesProfessor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University, in March Webinar hosted by the Office of the Attorney General Josh Stein.
The US Food and Drug Administration The FDA has not yet approved cannabis for certain medical conditions, as it is still completing medical research examining the effect of cannabis for medicinal use.
However, one hemp-derived product, Epidiolex, has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, for some seizure disorders. Three synthetic hemp-related products have also been approved – Marinol, Syndros, and Cesamet.
Humphreys expected that more drugs made from cannabis would be manufactured.
“There is no reason to be afraid of cannabis-containing medications,” Humphreys said.
Does this mean that recreational marijuana will be legalized?
Some people may oppose the legalization of medical marijuana because they do not want it to lead to the legalization of recreational marijuana.
Legalization of recreational marijuana has received less support than medical marijuana from North Carolina residents in WRAL Poll / USA Survey. However, more than half of North Carolina residents surveyed – 57 percent – agreed that recreational marijuana should be legal.
The key lawmakers behind the bill were clear that they do not support the legalization of recreational marijuana.
“Recreational marijuana is not what we want in our state,” he told me at the Judiciary Committee hearing.
As of November 2021, 18 states have taken measures to legalize recreational marijuana, less than half of the 37 states that have legalized medical marijuana.
Access to THC in NC
At the same time that state lawmakers are crafting a meticulously tailored medical marijuana bill, North Carolina citizens can go to the store now and buy products containing THC, The substance most often responsible for the effect of marijuana on a person’s mental state.
Delta-8 THC, a hemp-derived product with a chemical structure similar to Delta-9 THC, the compound found in marijuana, is widely available throughout North Carolina, NC . Health News Previously mentioned.
The 2018 farm bellpassed by the US Congress, makes this possible by creating a loophole that companies use to sell CBD-derived products that contain less than 0.3 percent THC.
Delta-8 THC has psychoactive effects similar to Delta-9 THC, and can have intoxicating effects, or make users “high”.
The The FDA has not approved or evaluated Delta-8 THC products He cautions against using these products for medical use, particularly because their production is unregulated and can be manufactured in “uncontrolled or unsanitary settings,” according to the Food and Drug Administration.
Medical marijuana is already legal in some tribal lands in North Carolina.
The Eastern Division of the Cherokee Indians, located in the westernmost part of North Carolina, Legal medical marijuana In August 2021, as well Possession of up to an ounce of marijuana in tribal lands.
North Carolina Health News is an independent, nonpartisan, statewide, non-profit news organization dedicated to covering all things healthcare in North Carolina. Visit NCHN at northcarolinahealthnews.org.