Should North Carolina Legalize Medical Marijuana?

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Should North Carolina Legalize Medical Marijuana?

North Carolina voters may get to decide to allow medical marijuana this fall. If the bill passes and the voters decide to enact the legislation, North Carolina would become one of twenty-eight states that have legalized medical marijuana. They would join Florida as the only other state in the south to have a medical marijuana program.

What’s the Marijuana Status Timeline in North Carolina

Representative Kelly Alexander of Charlotte, North Carolina, has been a longtime supporter of Medical Marijuana legislation. He has introduced bills several times that have never even made it out of committee. Back in February, Alexander and ten other Democrats filed a bill that would allow for patients with certain conditions to access medical marijuana. However, it is a long road, particularly since the State House and Senate are controlled by Republicans, who historically lack support for such initiatives.

There is hope, though, that the legislation might make it out for voters to decide. In 2015, the state legalized the hemp industry and allowed neurologists to prescribe hemp or CBD oil to patients suffering from seizures. This is despite a bill similar to the one put forth in February that was unanimously rejected by both Democrats and Republicans back in 2015.

This isn’t the first time that Alexander has attempted to sponsor legislation that would change existing marijuana laws. Back in 2013, he proposed legislation that would change penalties for certain amounts of marijuana. That bill also included a provision for first-time offenders charged with possession to get the offense cleared from their criminal records. The bill did not make it out of committee to go before voters.

The current bill is different from previous bills. Previously, the bills were authored in such a way as to leave the decision of legalization to lawmakers. This bill is authored to vote not on legalizing medical marijuana, but to decide on whether or not to allow North Carolina voters to decide on the matter. This allows politicians who may not want to be associated with supporting such a bill to take a hands-off stance. It puts the decision squarely in the hands of the populace, so they do not have to worry about it harming their reelection efforts.

What are the Pros of Legalization?

How could North Carolina benefit from the legalization of Medical Marijuana? It could lessen the impact of opioid dependency and overdose deaths. In 2015, medication and drug overdoses claimed more than 1,200 lives in North Carolina. Putting this in perspective, overdoses claim twice as many lives as murders in the state.  The most prevalent drug involved in overdose death is heroin, specifically heroin that is laced with fentanyl.

In North Carolina, the problem of opioid dependency might be worse than in other states. CDC data indicates that for every 100 people in the state, 97 have had a prescription for painkillers like Oxycontin and Vicodin. The legalization of medical marijuana could have a huge impact on opioid dependency according to a recent study.

The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the Philadelphia Veterans Affairs Medical Center found that in states where medical marijuana was legalized, deaths from opioid overdose fell by an average of 25%.

While some argue that marijuana, even if legalized only for specific medical conditions, is a gateway towards harder drugs, this study indicates that for some, it can be a way out of dependency.

Another way that North Carolina could benefit is in the number of arrests for marijuana would decline. FBI data reveals that 99 of 100 marijuana arrests are made under state, and not federal, marijuana law. This could free up law enforcement efforts to be focused on more worthwhile pursuits.  

Nationally, a full 93% of Americans support the legalization of medical marijuana according to a Quinnipiac University poll. Closer to home, in a poll commissioned by NORML of North Carolina, support for medical marijuana is up to 69% among North Carolina voters. This is up 12% from two years ago.

So What’s the Current Status of Marijuana?

Under the new bill, patients would be required to see a licensed physician in order to obtain their medical marijuana prescription. They would also have to suffer from one of the ailments listed in the bill. Once prescribed, they would have to obtain the product from a state-licensed “medical cannabis center.” This is a bit stricter than the medical marijuana initiatives in other states, such as California. The list of acceptable conditions treatable by medical marijuana will also likely be shorter.

Whether you support the legalization of marijuana outright or support only the availability of medical marijuana, it is clear that more and more states are giving consideration to this important medical matter. Despite the misconception about medical cannabis more than half of the United States have legalized medical marijuana but it still remains strictly illegal in several states. Keep in mind that even if states legalize recreationally or medically, marijuana still remains illegal at the federal level as well.

Author

Michael is a marketing and creative content specialist at GotVape.com with primary focus on customer satisfaction. Technology and fitness combined healthy lifestyle obsession are his main talking points.

6 comments on “Should North Carolina Legalize Medical Marijuana?”

  • Hi,

    My name is Jeanie Grice. I cannot find anywhere on your website to contact you so I am trying this.

    I have been on disability since 1985 for major depression, general anxiety and panic disorder. This runs in my family. My grandmother would not take her medicine. So, when I got sick I always took my meds religiously. I just never got better and my Doctor just kept piling on the meds to where by 5 yrs. ago I was a drooling blob. I knew I was dying. So, I set out to find a Doctor that would reevaluate my meds. I was tapered off everything, given a totally different diagnosis, Bipolar 2. FINALLY, I was off Haldol, high doses of Xanax, twice the dose of my current dose antidepressant, off Ambien. I now take Seroquel 300 and 150 of imipramine (half my old dose. It was like I was REBORN. I was in remission for 3 YEARS. But I always have a hard time sleeping and experiencing occasional anxiety. I went on vacation to Colorado and got some medicinal marijuana. One strain for sleep and one for anxiety. It was working better for me than any of the pharmaceuticals that I had been taking. I had a really smart aleck 20-year-old in the apt below me and had stopped him from using my internet due to his behavior. In retaliation, he called police on me. They confiscated approximately 1/4 oz. of marijuana, still in the container from the clinic, and I was charged with a class 3 misdemeanor ticket. I am 63 years old and have no prior criminal record. I paid my rent on time and received excellent inspections. My lease was terminated, just 2 days later (not even convicted yet) by the real estate company and I was given 15 days to get out. They stated that the ONLY reason that I was being removed was because of the marijuana possession. I then had a bad relapse under the stress and was in the hospital once again. Can you help me stop them from doing this again?? To another good person. I am willing to let my story go public as I have nothing to hide.

    My new address is (this event took place in Frisco, NC):

    Mary “Jeanie” Grice
    230 Worth Guard Road
    Coinjock, NC 27923
    Jwgrice54@gmail.com
    252-424-2571

  • This is actually the 3rd time that a bill proposing a constitutional amendment to institute a medical marijuana program has been introduced. The first was House Bill 1383, Short Title: Medical Marijuana Act/Referendum, sponsored by Democrat Earl Jones – Submitted April 13, 2009 – proposed that the question of whether North Carolina should enact a Medical Marijuana Act allowing the possession and use of Marijuana for medical purposes only shall be submitted to the qualified voters of the State at a statewide election on the question held on November 3, 2009. The second was House Bill 1161, Short Title: Legalize Medical Marijuana/Const. Amendment, sponsored/cosponsored by Kelly Alexander, Carla Cunningham, Susan Hamilton, Mary Price Harrison, and Annie Ward Mobley – Submitted May 14, 2014 – proposed that a constitutional amendment making medical use of marijuana legal shall be submitted to the qualified voters of the State at a statewide election on the question held on November 4, 2014.

  • I’m a disabled person who is addicted to opioid pain meds…I know from personal experience that marijuana helps to alleviate some of my pain…I hate the way that the meds make me feel and I would rather use something that is natural as opposed to drugs that will eventually shorten my life…I need help here…I’d love to find out how i can get the medicine that help legally…contact me if you have any information…thank you

  • I think it should be given as a medical medicine,, I suffer chronic pain and have for years. I take norco.. a opoid and I try to take one whenever I really need it. I suffer from many health issues. I get afraid of the opoids, since so many have died from overdoses, my sister being one of them. She had Crohn Disease. If it would help reduce pain for so many,, then we need that chance. I don’t believe it should be given as a recreational drug.

  • Im a disabled combat vet who for the last 25 years have follwed my VA Doctor’s regiment of pills and more pills. Im 51 and was taking 13 + pills a day for PTSD, anxiety, anxiousness, pain, antidepressants, and migraines. A 2 years ago I obtained some medical marjuana for these particular symptoms and I now take 2 pills a day and have felt better than I have since exiting active status. I will continue my self medication by what ever means necessary. I only use once a day and I have yet to want to go to heroine or other drugs to get what I need. Beleive it or not there are still some of us who can be responsible for our actions regardless of what the politicians think. Republican or Democrat they need to allow us to do what we know is best and get out of my health care. I dont know to many politicians who are doctors so quit trying. North Carolina is also home to a large concentrate of Vets that really need this as well as many of our civilians.
    Tom Wallace
    Raleigh NC

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