Update on Medical Marijuana Legislation Proposed in North Carolina

In April, NC House Bill 1380, titled the North Carolina Medical Marijuana Act, was introduced. This legislation, aimed at decriminalizing marijuana for medical purposes and exempts patients from prosecution, has been sitting at a standstill since April 13 after passing its first reading and being sent to the Committee on Health and the Committee on Finance. The Department of Health and Human Services would be in charge of regulation. Licenses would be required for growers and dispensers.

The Journal of Clinical Pharmacology and The National Institute on Drug abuse recently published a review on marijuana after finding that no one has ever died of THC poisoning. THC is the active ingredient in marijuana that produces results in a high.

The American Medical Association reported that smoking cannabis makes you hungry and that those receiving chemotherapy can benefit from cannabis provided that they are not responsive to other medications.

Despite this, Conservative Representatives on the NC Health Committee have made it clear that the FDA needs to provide evidence of the health benefits of medical marijuana before decisions would be made about House Bill 1380.

Locally at WCU, students are continuing to establish a chapter of NORML, also known as National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, which is a group founded by WCU Senior Ben Smith. The NORML is an organization that seeks to promote cannabis education and fight for fair legislation. Other schools in North Carolina that already have university recognized chapters of NORML are UNC Chapel Hill, UNC Pembroke, and Appalachian State.

According to Smith, “The current laws regarding cannabis are not only outdated, but are also ineffective. We are in a different time now. There have been millions of arrests since the 1960s for harmless crimes related to the possession of cannabis. Smoking and possessing cannabis are victimless crimes.”

WCU students who are already national NORML members are encouraged to come to meetings this fall. Information about meetings can be found by joining the Facebook Group NORML@WCU.

Students are encouraged by faculty to become involved in issues in order to impact NC legislation. Walter Turner, the Director of Student Community Ethics stated, “I encourage students to become active in the political process in a civil and intellectual way so that they can impact society and our campus, regardless of how they feel about the issue.”

House Bill 1380 would make North Carolina the fourteenth state to allow medical marijuana. Michigan and New Mexico have recently passed similar legislation.