A North Carolina bill would legalize medical marijuana in the state, potentially bolstering the freedom of choice for sick patients in the state against the will of federal drug warriors in Washington D.C.
Introduced by State Rep. Kelly Alexander (D-Mecklenberg), House Bill 78 (HB78) would allow medical marijuana to make its way into the hands of the qualified patients after receiving ID cards issued by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.
Under HB78, a qualified patient would be defined as someone who “has been diagnosed by a physician as having a debilitating medical condition.” There is no specific or finite list of specific conditions necessary to qualify. Patients would be allowed to keep a 24 ounce supply.
The bill also specifically protects caregivers from “arrest, prosecution, or penalty in any manner,” and prohibits the denial of any “right or privilege, including imposition of a civil penalty or disciplinary action…for the possession or purchase of cannabis for medical use by the qualified patient if the quantity of cannabis possessed or purchased does not exceed an adequate supply for the qualified patient, as determined by the qualified patient’s physician.” Similar protections are also in place for physicians who recommend it to qualified patients.
Additional provisions make it illegal for a person to be denied entry to a school, a job position, visitation or child custody rights, or a lease with a landlord due to their use of medical marijuana.
HB78 protects the confidentiality of patients whose information is kept by the state Department of Health and Human Services by making it a Class 1 misdemeanor.
Although HB78 draws a legal distinction between recreational and medical marijuana, it still represents an enormous step in the right direction for cannabis rights advocates in the state of North Carolina. The top-down federal mandates that have failed for so many decades are being replaced with a more decentralized, compassionate approach that is responsive to the needs of the people.
Activists should embrace any opportunity that they have to make it more difficult for people to be locked in cages for the non-violent non-crime of marijuana possession. The end of the federal drug war is on its way whether detractors like it or not. A measure like HB78 can help grease the wheels on our way toward that inevitable goal!
HOW TO SUPPORT THIS BILL
If you live in the state of North Carolina, contact your state legislators immediately. It is important for you to politely urge them to support and co-sponsor HB78. That is how you can make a difference in the fight against cannabis prohibition.
If you live in different state, contact your state legislators and urge them to introduce a supporting bill to HB78 such as our P.E.A.C.E (Preventing Excessive Allocations for Cannabis Enforcement) Act.