- D.H. Reilly
2021 Was a Big Year for North Carolina Medical Marijuana—What’s Next?
We began 2021 without being able to get a North Carolina Marijuana Card, and now we’re beginning 2022 the same way. From that perspective, it may seem like nothing has changed.
But when you look back on 2021 and read the political tea leaves for 2022, a different story emerges. That story tells the tale of tremendous progress made towards a day that is beginning to look inevitable, the day when medical marijuana is accessible to all North Carolinians who need it.
Medical Marijuana Finally Comes to (a Sovereign Nation Located Within) North Carolina!
Medical marijuana finally came to North Carolina this year, when the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI) voted on August 5 to allow the medicine to be grown, sold, and used on Cherokee land.
The program will be of little use to most Tar Heels, as most of us can’t get away to EBCI land everytime we need a dose of medicine. However, the program could place pressure on North Carolina legislators to get with the times and institute a program of their own.
Jeremy Wilson, the tribe’s Governmental Affairs Liaison, told WMYA, Asheville’s MyNetworkTV affiliate, that establishing their own medical marijuana market “gives us the opportunity to showcase to North Carolina how it can be done and done efficiently and effectively.”
Richard Sneed, the tribe’s principal chief, told the Charlotte Observer that the vote is yet another sign of “the changing attitudes toward legal marijuana and a recognition of the growing body of evidence that supports cannabis as medicine… [especially] for those with debilitating conditions like cancer and chronic pain.”
And evidence of those changing attitudes can be found in North Carolina outside of Cherokee land as well.
Support for Medical Marijuana at Record High in North Carolina
Researchers announced in February that support for medical marijuana is at an unprecedented high here in the Tar Heel State.
The Elon University Poll showed that 73% of North Carolinians support legalizing medical marijuana. Although that lags behind the 91% of Americans overall who support the medicine, it’s still a sizable majority.
Beyond the sheer number of us who support medical marijuana, also noteworthy in 2021 was the support for the medicine among a specific subsection of North Carolinians.
Veteran Support for Medical Marijuana Helping to Bring Change
An article produced by Kaiser Health News and appearing in both USA Today and Stars and Stripes spotlighted the role that veterans have played in supporting the spread of medical marijuana laws. The article also made the argument that it will be veterans who do the most to move the needle in the fourteen states who, like North Carolina, are still without access to the medicine.
“The group carrying the message here makes a huge difference,” Julius Hobson, Jr., a former lobbyist who now teaches at George Washington University, told Kaiser Health News. “When you’ve got veterans coming in advocating for that, and they’re considered to be a more conservative bunch of folks, that has more impact.” Veterans also represent a significant chunk of the population in Southern states. “That’s what gives them clout,” Hobson added.
According to Garrett Purdue, the son of former North Carolina governor Beverly Perdue and also a spokesperson for NC Families for Medical Cannabis, a pro-legalization advocacy group, because veterans are so respected in North Carolina, legislators tend to find their stories especially moving and persuasive. “For [lawmakers] to hear stories of those people that are trusted to protect us and enforce the right of law,” Purdue told Kaiser Health News, “is pretty compelling.”
A Medical Marijuana Law Came Closer to Passing in 2021 Than Any Previous Attempts Did
Perhaps the most telling sign of how much progress we made in 2021 is Senate Bill 711, a medical marijuana bill that came closer to passing than any other such bill ever has. And while the year came and went without the bill becoming law, it’s still alive and making progress through the Senate as we head into 2022.
SB 711 Made Steady Progress Throughout 2021
First introduced to the Senate in April, SB 711 has been defying the odds and surviving committee debates ever since. In fact, the last action on the bill came on December 22, when the Senate Judiciary passed SB 711, after having added a provision to ensure that additional qualifying conditions could be added to the law after its passage.
Obstacles Remain for SB 711, but It’s Still Likely to Pass
SB 711 still faces a number of obstacles, with the largest perhaps being that Republicans dominate North Carolina politically, and the GOP has long been a fierce opponent of easing marijuana prohibitions. Given the political reality of the state, we can hardly call the bill’s passage inevitable.
Nevertheless, medical marijuana proponents have a number of factors on their side, including the softening of many Republican politicians’ views on medical marijuana. Jill Swing of the South Carolina Compassionate Care Alliance told Florence, South Carolina, CBS affiliate WBTW, that as public opinion has shifted in medical marijuana’s favor, “The greatest increase in support has been Republicans who support it.”
Swing said that although Republican lawmakers were once worried that supporting legalization would hurt their re-election odds, instead “they have been touted as heroes by stepping out and supporting medical cannabis legislation.” That trend is likely to continue, as politicians wake up to the reality that the vast majority of their constituents now support medical marijuana. And as that happens, the biggest roadblock between North Carolina and medical marijuana is likely to crumble.
Of course for that to happen anytime soon, we all need to make sure our elected officials know that we support medical marijuana, and we’ll support candidates who do also.
Let Your Representatives Know You Support Medical Marijuana
The sooner politicians get the message that the people demand medical marijuana, the sooner it will come to North Carolina.
So if you’ve been longing for relief, let your representatives know it. Tell them your story, and why you need the safe, natural relief that only cannabis can provide. Let them know that you’re following SB 711’s progress, and let them know what additions you’d like to see made before the bill becomes law.
Politicians can’t ignore the wishes of 91% of Americans and 73% of North Carolinians forever, and the more people they hear from, the sooner they’ll have to get with the times.
We know it feels like you’ll never get medical marijuana, North Carolina, but you’re closer than you’ve ever been before. Don’t let up now.
Get Started For Medical Marijuana Right Now
And after you’ve let your representatives know how you feel about medical marijuana, what should you do then? Twiddle your thumbs and wait for the politicians to catch up with the people? Heck no!
Instead of waiting, why not get ready now for medical marijuana’s inevitable arrival in North Carolina? Reserve an evaluation online today, and we’ll book an appointment for you with one of our compassionate doctors just as soon as the state’s medical marijuana market is up and running!
You’ll meet with your new doctor virtually, using your smartphone, tablet, or computer for a telemedicine appointment. Together, you’ll discuss your qualifying conditions, if you’re eligible for a North Carolina Marijuana Card, and what medical marijuana might be able to do for you, all without even leaving your home! You’ll even save $25 off the cost of the evaluation!
Doctors Who Care.
Relief You Can Trust.
Helping everyone achieve wellness safely and conveniently through increased access to medical marijuana. Our focus on education, inclusion, and acceptance will reduce the stigma for our patients by providing equal access to timely information and compassionate care.
If you have any questions, call us at (833) 781-7320, or simply book a medical marijuana evaluation to start getting relief you can trust today!