North Carolina’s House Bill 78 – Enact Medical Cannabis Act – was introduced by Rep. Kelly Alexander.
This 2015 bill has several co-sponsors and has some of the following features:
- Patients are allowed to maintain a 24 ounce supply
- Patients and caregivers are allowed a 250 square foot cultivation space
- Qualifying conditions include… cancer, glaucoma, HIV, AIDS, Hepatitis C, ALS, Alzheimers, fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis, celiac disease, migraines, Crohn’s Disease, diabetes, hypertension, MRSA, spinal cord disease, arthritis, sleep apnea, and several other conditions.
- A regulated caregiver and cannabis distribution system that allows for growing operations and dispensaries.
- Patient ID cards are required before purchasing medical cannabis.
- Creation of the North Carolina Cannabis Research Program overseen by the University of North Carolina system.
Support for medical marijuana in North Carolina has surged each of the past three years. As of February 2015, 70% of North Carolina residents are in favor of a doctor’s right to prescribe cannabis to qualifying patients.
North Carolina does not have a ballot initiative process. To pass medical cannabis legislation, a bill must be reviewed and approved by several committees in the General Assembly. Despite the strong support for medical cannabis in the state, a majority of representatives and senators are not yet in favor of passing cannabis related legislation.
To ensure passage of this bill, it is important for everyone who supports medical marijuana and patients’ rights to legal access to the plant to contact their representative. A brief explanation on how to do so can be found in the article “Who Represents Me in North Carolina’s State Congress”
Federally, cannabis has been a Schedule I controlled substance since 1970. Schedule I substances are deemed to have a high potential for abuse and no medical value.
Fewer than 10 percent of those who try marijuana ever meet the clinical criteria for dependence, while 32% of tobacco users and 15 percent of alcohol users do.
There have been no deaths from marijuana overdose or chronic use according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
The National Cancer Institute (the U.S. government’s branch of cancer research) now recognizes marijuana has cancer cell killing properties.
H78 passed its first reading.
Now the bill must go through the Judiciary 1 Committee (8 Republicans, 3 Democrats).
If it passes the Judiciary 1 Committee, H78 must go through the Health Committee (19 Republicans, 11 Democrats including one primary sponsor and one co-sponsor).
If it passes the Health Committee, H78 must go through the Regulatory Reform Committee (20 Republicans, 9 Democrats including two primary sponsors, and one co-sponsor).
If it passes the Regulatory Reform Committee, HB78 will go back to floor for 2nd reading, a 3rd reading, then a vote.
If it passes the House, then HB78 moves to the Senate (for reviews and votes).