North Carolina Medical Marijuana Program
Lawmakers on Wednesday took action on a revised bill to legalize medical marijuana in North Carolina. Currently, the state only allows patients to use non-intoxicating, hemp-derived CBD oil. The new measure would allow patients with debilitating medical conditions to purchase a variety of cannabis products at North Carolina medical marijuana dispensaries.
Senators have now accepted the revisions in the new version of the bill, setting it up for formal approval at a subsequent meeting.
North Carolina’s current “medical marijuana” program
Although the majority of North Carolina residents are in favor of medical marijuana, advocates have been unsuccessful in getting a decent medical marijuana law passed.
In 2014, North Carolina lawmakers passed a severely limited medical cannabis law. Under the law only strains of cannabis that are high in CBD (at least 5 percent) and with only trace amounts of THC (under 0.9 percent) are permitted. The law made no provision for the legal cultivation, production, or sale of CBD oil. The law became a moot point in 2018 when the federal government legalized hemp-derived CBD oil.
In 2019, a more comprehensive medical marijuana bill was introduced in the House of Representatives but died in a House committee. The current program has a sunset clause and is set to expire in 2021.
What’s in the new North Carolina medical marijuana bill?
In order to get a North Carolina medical marijuana card, patients would need to be approved by certified North Carolina medical marijuana doctors. And they would need to reevaluate patients’ eligibility for the program at least once a year.
Here are some of the details of the proposal:
Qualifying conditions for medical marijuana in North Carolina might include cancer, epilepsy, HIV/AIDS, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and post-traumatic stress disorder, among others.
Terminally ill patients with six months to live or patients in hospice care would also qualify.
Purchase and possession limits
Under the legislation, medical marijuana cardholders could possess up to one and a half ounces of cannabis.
Home cultivation would not be permitted.
Available cannabis products
Available cannabis products might include:
- tablets and capsules
- topical preparations
- transdermal patches
- sublingual tinctures
- edibles (limited in form)
- resin and wax
Smoking and vaping
Smoking and vaping of concentrates would be allowed, but doctors would need to prescribe a specific method of delivery and dosages for patients.
A 13-member Compassionate Use Advisory Board would be established that would have the authority to add new qualifying medical conditions.
Separately, a nine-member Medical Cannabis Production Commission would be created to ensure that there’s an adequate supply of cannabis for patients, oversee licensing, and generate enough revenue to regulate the program.
The bill provides for up to 10 medical marijuana suppliers who control the cultivation and sale of cannabis. Each supplier can operate up to four dispensaries.
The measure would create a North Carolina Cannabis Research Program to “undertake objective, scientific research regarding the administration of cannabis or cannabis-infused products as part of medical treatment.”
After being formally approved by the Judiciary panel, the bill must clear the Senate Health Care and Rules and Operations Committees in order to reach the floor for a vote.
Advocates are encouraged by the bill’s advancement, but they’re still hoping lawmakers will expand the proposed program to promote social equity and to add chronic pain as a qualifying medical condition.
A separate medical cannabis bill, adult-use marijuana legalization measures, and several pieces of cannabis decriminalization legislation have also been introduced in recent months—though they would likely face an uphill battle in the GOP-controlled legislature. (See links below.)
- North Carolina Dispensaries
- North Carolina Medical Marijuana Doctors
- North Carolina Medical Marijuana Card
- North Carolina CBD Laws