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Changes in health care have been hitting the headlines in recent months. One of the most controversial topics being debated is the legalization of medical marijuana and how the law varies from state to state. It should also be noted that legalization is under state law only, and it’s still illegal under federal law.

Twenty-nine states currently have legalized medical marijuana policies in place under state law. You can find a list of them and how each law differs on this handy summary page. Omitted from the list is North Carolina in which possession of medical marijuana is not permitted by state law, YET.

Could this be about to change? Let’s take a look at the facts.

What is Medical Marijuana?

‘Medical marijuana’ is the use of the marijuana plant to treat medical symptoms, rather than to induce a ‘high’. The plants have hundreds of chemicals in them called ‘cannabinoids’, the two most important ones being CBD and THC. While CBD is the non-psychoactive part (and its oil form available on a more widely spread basis), medical marijuana contains both chemicals.

Conditions permitted to have symptoms treated with medical marijuana varies from state to state, but some of the most common include HIV, AIDS, Arthritis, Glaucoma, Alzheimer’s, Multiple Sclerosis (MS), Epilepsy, Cancer and other chronic conditions. Mental disorders such as PTSD are also covered in some states. Symptoms which may require relief include:

  • Muscle spasms
  • Severe nausea
  • Seizures
  • Cachexia (wasting/weakness of the body)
  • Severe pain

Last year’s calculations showed that in those states with mandatory registration for medical marijuana, a total of 1,246,170 patients hold identification cards for the drug.

This is despite official information from the FDA (U.S. Food & Drug Administration) which states:

“The FDA has not approved any product containing or derived from botanical marijuana for any indication. This means that the FDA has not found any such product to be safe or effective for the treatment of any disease or condition. Study of marijuana in clinical trial settings is needed to assess the safety and effectiveness of marijuana for medical use.”

This has led some critics to assess that there hasn’t been large enough research yet to prove the benefits outweigh risks such as respiratory problems and its effect on brain function.

US Law & North Carolina Plans

In North Carolina, possession of medical marijuana is currently illegal. However, a bill (which you can read in full here) introduced in February in the North Carolina General Assembly, aims to address the legalization of medical marijuana under state law. It aims that the ‘North Carolina Medical Cannabis Act’ will have clear guidelines about legal protection, medical use and the role of Doctors. The bill also outlines plans for the ‘North Carolina Cannabis Research Program’ which will undertake objective scientific research into the efficacy and safety of its use in medical treatment.

At the time of this article’s publication, the bill is still awaiting action.

Time will tell how medical marijuana changes the way people manage their symptoms when coping with debilitating conditions. With over one million registered users of the drug and further states aiming to change their laws, this figure is set to rise. More clinical trials and scientific research needs to be carried out to assess its true effects and risks. This will enable people to use the drug with confidence in its safety.

For more advice about your health care or prescription needs, contact us or pop in and see us at Walker’s drug store. We’re happy to help.