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  • D.H. Reilly

Which Cannabis Products Will be Available With a Legal NC Medical Marijuana Program?

While we’re confident you’ll one day soon be able to get a North Carolina Marijuana Card, what kinds of marijuana will you be able to purchase here once that day comes?

While we don’t have a crystal ball, we think we can make some fairly accurate predictions about this. If nothing else, we can use the text of SB 711 as a guide to help us predict what forms of marijuana you’ll be able to purchase in North Carolina dispensaries once medical marijuana finally comes to the Tar Heel State.

SB 711, or the North Carolina Compassionate Care Act, came closer in 2021 to passing than any medical marijuana bill in North Carolina ever has, and it’s not dead yet. Thus it’s logical to conclude that whatever medical marijuana legislation ends up becoming law here will bear some resemblance to SB 711.

And SB 711 is explicit about what kinds of marijuana would be legally permissible should it pass.

I’ve Got You Under My Skin: Topically Applied Medical Marijuana

SB 711 would allow medical marijuana patients to use medical marijuana on the skin, through a “topical preparation” or a “transdermal preparation.”

Dosing this way has the advantage of being easy on the lungs and stomach. Topical applications also offer the ability to do targeted relief. Cancer patients can apply lotions or ointments to their hands and feet to reduce the tingling caused by radiation treatments, and M.S. patients can similarly directly treat those parts of their body that may often ache as a symptom of their condition.

Open Up and Say “Ah”: Oral Options for Using Medical Marijuana

SB 711 would also allow patients to use medical marijuana via tablets, capsules, lozenges, sublingual preparations, and “gelatinous rectangular cuboids.”

That’s a bit of a mouthful, which is appropriate, as all of these methods involve dosing your medicine orally, either through swallowing or placing it under your tongue. These methods make precise dosing easier. Well, they make precise dosing easier with a bit of practice, that is.

You see, as Dr. Andrew Talbott, medical advisor to the Utah-based medical marijuana advocacy group TRUCE, explains, the effects of orally ingested cannabis are delayed. As a result, inexperienced patients may believe their medication isn’t working and consume additional doses before the first one has taken effect, and they may become overmedicated as a result.

But once you’ve figured out your dosing needs, tablets, capsules, and even gelatinous rectangular cuboids allow for easy, precise doses.

Then there are the sublingual preparations, the most common of which are known as tinctures. Tinctures are “concentrated herbal extracts made by soaking the bark, berries, leaves (dried or fresh), or roots from one or more plants in alcohol or vinegar.” Tinctures are also made using an oil base. The oil, alcohol, or vinegar pulls the active ingredients from the plant parts, and concentes them as a liquid.

Tinctures are often (and traditionally were always) alcohol based, and if raw cannabis flower were legal in North Carolina, you could easily make your own. Just soak marijuana in high-proof alcohol, straining out the residual solid plant parts, and voila, homemade medicine.

Whether alcohol, vinegar, or oil based, tinctures are taken either sublingually or by swallowing them with some food or drink. When dosing sublingually, place the medicine under your tongue, hold it there for about a minute, then swallow. The active ingredients in the tincture will absorb directly into your bloodstream, taking effect within about 20 minutes or less.

Tinctures are often a favored delivery method among doctors, because they are long-lasting and easy on the lungs. Furthermore, because tinctures aren’t absorbed through the digestive tract, unless you take them with food or water instead of under the tongue, they can be easier on patients’ stomachs than some other oral delivery options.

Finally, tinctures are often available in formulations that emphasize CBD content, meaning they can offer a lot of medicinal value and relief while having milder side effects than some other forms of medical marijuana.

Some Popular Forms of Medical Marijuana Consumption are Likely to be Banned… for Now

As it stands, SB 711 explicitly bans medical marijuana consumption “by inhalation, smoking, or vaping.” That means there are several popular forms of dosing medical marijuana that are likely to be banned under North Carolina law, at least at first.

That includes the use of inhalers or nebulizers, which require inhalation, and are often considered healthier than vaping, one of the most popular methods nationally for dosing medical marijuana. That’s because inhalers and nebulizers avoid the residual solvents often found in vaporizer oils.

But vaporizing is also considered one of the healthiest alternatives to smoking marijuana, as those residual solvents are typically safe in extremely small numbers.

And of course if inhalation is out, so is the delivery method preferred by marijuana users for at least 2,500 years, smoking.

But it isn’t just the longstanding tradition of smoking cannabis, or the relative safety of vaping, that attracts so many medical marijuana patients to prefer to buy their medicine in its natural flower form, a form likely to be banned in North Carolina. Both smoking and vaping flower deliver effects more quickly than other methods, such as edibles or pills.

Flower marijuana also has the advantage of being the cheapest form of marijuana. Because flower marijuana hasn’t been processed, it costs less to produce and therefore less to buy.

In Minnesota, for example, the recent decision to add cannabis flower to the medical marijuana market is expected to quadruple participation in the state’s program. That’s big news, considering that Minnesota’s medical marijuana market has struggled to grow due largely to high prices.

If you’re disappointed by the kinds of marijunana you’ll likely be able to purchase once North Carolina officially welcomes medical marijuana, keep in mind that it’s easier to expand a cannabis program than it is to create one. For example, in 2021 both Texas and Minnesota expanded their programs.

So whatever kind of medical marijuana law ends up being passed in North Carolina, it will probably end up being altered and expanded as patient participation grows and more and more Tar Heels become familiar with the safe, natural relief of cannabis and less and less likely to fall for the myths and stigmas surrounding this much maligned medicine.

Start Your Medical Marijuana Journey Today

If you’re interested in learning more about what medical marijuana might be able to do for you, and what forms of the medicine might best fit your needs, why wait for North Carolina to catch up with the thirty-six other states that have medical marijuana laws already? You can start getting the answers you need today!

Reserve an evaluation online today, and we’ll book an appointment for you with one of our compassionate doctors just as soon as North Carolina’s medical marijuana market is up and running.

You’ll meet with your new doctor virtually, using your smartphone or computer for a telemedicine appointment. You’ll learn if you qualify for a North Carolina Marijuana Card and get all of your questions answered, all without even leaving your home. And 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!

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