North Carolina Lawmakers Approve Limited Medical Marijuana Bill; Governor to Sign into Law

North Carolina Lawmakers Approve Limited Medical Marijuana Bill; Governor to Sign into Law

North Carolina becomes the 34th state to allow some form of medical marijuana

RALEIGH, NC — A bill to allow patients who suffer from intractable epilepsy access to cannabinol, or CBD, based medical marijuana has been unanimously approved a floor vote in the North Carolina Senate.

House Bill 1220, which was unanimously approved by a key Senate committee on Wednesday, received a unanimous 45-0 vote on the floor of the Senate on Thursday.

Following the Senate’s vote Thursday, the North Carolina House of Representatives, which had previously voted 111 to 2 to pass the bill, voted 112 – 1 to adopt the bill as amended in the Senate.

The bill was amended in the Senate to require the physician who recommenced cannabis oil treatment to participate in a state pilot study of the effectiveness of cannabis oil treatment on seizure disorders.

Thursday afternoon, Governor Pat McCrory announced he will sign the bill into law, saying the bill will help ease patients’ suffering while providing “common sense regulation.”

“This law will help ease the suffering endured by children from whom no other treatments are effective against their seizures,” Governor McCrory said. “I want to congratulate the General Assembly for crafting a bill that not only improves the lives of many North Carolina children and their parents, but also provides common sense regulation and facilitates clinical research at our major research universities.”

Once signed into law by Gov. McCrory, the bill will allow for the possession of cannabis extracts for those with seizure disorders who receive a recommendation from a neurologist, and subsequently obtain a registration card from the state’s Department of Health.

The cannabis extracts must contain less than less than .3 percent of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and must contain at least at least 10 percent cannabidiol (CBD).

Neurologists will be authorized to dispense the medicine to patients, who can only use marijuana oil extract if they meet certain conditions. The patient has to suffer from intractable epilepsy, a North Carolina resident and be examined by a neurologist who recommends hemp extract oil.

A provision in the bill also encourages several prominent schools in the state — Wake Forest University, Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill — to research the effectiveness of cannabis oil on seizure disorders.

The full text of the most current version of the bill can be found here.

To date, 9 other states — Alabama, Florida, Iowa, Kentucky, Mississippi, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, and Wisconsin – have enacted similar legislation, and a tenth, Missouri, has also passed a similar bill that is awaiting action by Governor Jay Nixon, who is expected to sign the bill within the few weeks.

In addition, 22 states and the District of Columbia have enacted comprehensive medical marijuana programs.  Lawmakers in a 23rd state, New York, recently approved a comprehensive medical marijuana bill that is awaiting action by Governor Andrew Cuomo.

Once the bills have been signed into law in Missouri, New York and North Carolina, a total of 34 states plus the District of Columbia will have enacted laws to allow some form of medical marijuana.

Marijuana reform activists, however, contend that these limited CBD-only bills are unlikely to provide many patients, if any, with relief, and call for more comprehensive medical marijuana bills similar to those enacted in 22 states and the District of Columbia.