GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – North Carolina legislators are back at it again trying to legalize marijuana for medicinal purposes. This would be the second step North Carolina has made into using the cannabis plant for medical reasons.
In 2014, Governor Pat McCrory signed into law an act that legalized CBD oil to treat epilepsy.
The measure was then expanded upon last year, but included a sunset clause ending the program in 2021 if studies failed to show the oil is effective.
Representatives say it’s time for North Carolina to get medical marijuana out to patients.
House Bill 983 is the latest version of bills drafted and filed, but all of those have failed. Some say it may pass this time around.
“I think we’re at a point where we need to start looking at alternative methods,” said Annie Hernandez, who is in favor of medical marijuana.
House Bill 983 is solely focused on legalizing marijuana for medical purposes. Pitt County Representative Greg Murphy, who is also a medical doctor, is co-sponsoring the bill.
“What I would like to see happen is the ability of a small number of certified physicians be able to prescribe medical marijuana when other interventions have failed,” said Murphy.
The Republican said it can be used as a tool to relieve the suffering of patients with chronic pain from certain cancers and disease.
“When it gets to the point when there’s not anything else you can do, I think she’d definitely be open to the idea,” Hernandez added.
She said the legalization of medical marijuana could help her family.
“My mom has multiple sclerosis, so a lot of treatments like that don’t really do a lot. So, I think if used for the right reasons it could help,” she added.
Murphy elaborated and added much of the controversy around medical marijuana stems from a lack of education and discussion.
“So, many of our medications come from plants and the problem is that marijuana has gotten a bad name because of its abuse potential.”
Some states have gotten over that stigma. Right now, 24 states in the country have legalized the drug for medicinal use. North Carolina could be state no. 25.
If passed, North Carolina is expected to make money as the marijuana will be taxed at $8 per oz. Other states including Arizona, Washington and California make millions of dollars from tax revenue.
House Bill 983 currently sits in the House Health Committee, where it must pass before moving on to the full House for further consideration.