- Hannamarie Newhart
Medical Marijuana in North Carolina - Where We Are, How We Got Here and Where We're Going
Everything You Need to Know About Medical Marijuana in North Carolina!
North Carolina has had little to no progress when it comes to legalizing medical or recreational marijuana. However, there is hope on the horizon! In April there were multiple bills introduced to try and move forward with legalizing medical marijuana and marijuana for adult use!
As of April 2021, 36 states and Washington D.C. have legalized the usage of marijuana for medicinal purposes. 16 states (including Washington D.C.) have legalized marijuana for adults over the age of 21. Right now North Carolina is not in either of these categories, but we hope with the growing support that we will soon join states in legalizing marijuana!
Here at North Carolina Marijuana Card, we know how beneficial medical marijuana can be for those suffering from different physical/mental conditions. We want to be your advocate and keep you up to date on what’s going on in your state! So keep reading to learn more about the history of marijuana in NC, how we got here, and where we’re going!
The History of Medical Marijuana Legislation in North Carolina
While other conservative-leaning states such as Mississippi, West Virginia, and Utah have all legalized medical marijuana, they have done this through citizen-led ballot initiatives. This is when they gather signatures to put a proposal on the ballot, but this is not allowed in North Carolina. The fate of these bills lies directly in the hands of the legislature.
In the past there have been many campaigns to try and start fully operating medical programs, but they have never been able to get past the state’s legislature. However in 2014, the North Carolina Epilepsy Alternative Treatment Act was signed into law. This law allows people suffering from intractable epilepsy to have access to a very small amount of low-THC CBD to help ease their pain. However, there are strings attached:
There is nowhere to buy this product in the state. Qualifying patients must travel to states that accept out-of-state patients.
The dosage allowed is so low that it is not very effective to the patient. There might as well be no law at all.
The Current State of Medical Marijuana Laws in North Carolina
While this is still a waiting game for many North Carolinians, there have been multiple bills introduced in April 2021.
Senate Bill 669 (SB 669) and Senate Bill 646 (SB 646) two bills were introduced. SB 669 would fully legalize medical marijuana, and SB 646 would legalize, tax, and regulate adult use cannabis for adults 21 and older.
North Carolina Representative John Autry was one of four legislators to introduce House Bill 617 (HB 617) to the General Assembly back in April. This bill would:
• Allows regulations for growers, producers/processors, retail outlets, and on-site usage establishments.
• Establishes a Registration Department.
• Provides for the collection of state and local taxes, which proponents contend would pump millions of dollars into government coffers.
• Establish the Office of Social Equity to conduct community reinvestment and repair, social equity, cannabis education and technical assistance initiatives.
• Make legal use, possession, and cultivation of up to 12 cannabis plants for people 21 or older for personal use
Senate Bill 711 (also known as the North Carolina Compassionate Care Act) was also filed during April. It was introduced by one of the legislature’s most powerful Republicans, Senator Bill Rabon and has actual support behind it! This bill would allow people suffering from cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma, Crohn’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, AIDS/HIV and ALS to get relief through medical marijuana!
Every single one of these bills would be extremely beneficial to many people and would also benefit the state as a whole. There are many monetary benefits to legalizing marijuana that have yet to be considered when discussing this issue. The state would be able to collect millions of dollars from tax revenue, and this industry would also provide many jobs.
Part of the issue still lies in the stereotypes and myths associated with cannabis. Some people still see this as a gateway drug, but that is completely false. It can be easy to overlook the medical benefits of marijuana due to the long, negative and false history.
North Carolina has never had a lot of support or motivation to further the marijuana movement. They have some of the strictest laws in the country when it comes to cannabis, and there is a long history of severe punishments for those who have it in their possession.
Thankfully marijuana was decriminalized back in July 2020. “What does this mean?” you might ask. It means that first time offenders will not be put in jail for small amounts of marijuana. Possession of .5oz or less is a misdemeanor and a $200 fine. If you have .5oz-1.5oz that is punishable with a misdemeanor, 1-45 days in jail, and a $1,000 fine. While the laws still seem a little old fashioned, it is progress from how it used to be.
When Might We See Legal Medical Marijuana in North Carolina?
There is a glimmer of hope! It seems that the idea of legalizing marijuana is becoming more important to not only the legislature but the people as well. While it is great that many bills have been introduced, the process of turning it into an actual law can take a lot of time. The process has multiple steps:
The Creation of a Bill.
Committee Action. A committee is usually assigned to study the bill according to its subject matter.
Floor Action. The bill is returned to the full House or Senate for more debating and approval.
Vote. House and Senate members vote on their respective versions of the proposed bill.
Conference Committees. A bill must be approved by both Chambers of Congress.
Presidential Action. After the bill is passed by both Chambers it is sent to the President for his approval or his signature, which if granted creates a Public Law.
The Creation of a Law.
While there is not an exact timeline of when these bills will move forward, we are hopeful that the support from state representatives and the people of North Carolina that some or all of these bills will be made into a law sooner than later. With many other states legalizing marijuana, it is time for North Carolina to give people the opportunity to get the relief they deserve!
The people of North Carolina are slowly changing their perspective! Earlier this year a poll of North Carolina voters by Elon University discovered that 73% of people would support medical marijuana, nearly two-thirds being Republicans. 54% of North Carolina residents support legalizing cannabis for use by adults. These statistics have the potential to make an impact on the decision of legalizing marijuana as a whole!
What Do I Do Now?
If you would like to show your support for any of the bills mentioned in this article, please contact your state representatives and encourage them to push for the bill to be made into a law! These actions make a difference, and you can be part of this movement!
In the meantime, we will be keeping you updated on the progress that is being made! Make sure you are subscribed to our newsletter so that you can stay informed on what’s going on in your state. Go to https://www.northcarolinamarijuanacard.com/, scroll to the bottom of the page, and enter your email address!
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