Would you need a permit to use medical marijuana in NC?

In this Thursday June 17, 2021 file photo, cannabis plants are close to harvest in a grow room at the Greenleaf Medical Cannabis facility in Richmond, Va.

In this Thursday June 17, 2021 file photo, cannabis plants are close to harvest in a grow room at the Greenleaf Medical Cannabis facility in Richmond, Va.

Associated Press file photo

Medical marijuana could soon be legalized in North Carolina, but you’ll need a permit to get your hands on it.

The Compassionate Care Act, which sits in the state House, would allow those with “debilitating medical conditions,” such as cancer, epilepsy and Parkinson’s disease, to use medical marijuana.

Patients would be required to provide written certifications from physicians stating they have a qualifying condition, and there would be specific restrictions on marijuana use for those under the age of 18, according to the bill.

Currently, cannabis use is only permitted for those suffering from a chronic medical condition who are under the care of licensed caregivers, state law says.

Is a permit required to use medicinal marijuana?

Marijuana possession is illegal in North Carolina, according to state law.

But a bill passed in the North Carolina General Assembly in 2015 allows those suffering from intractable epilepsy, a seizure disorder that does not respond to conventional treatment, to use “hemp extract” products that have a THC concentration of less than 0.9% and a CBD concentration of at least 5%.

CBD is a naturally occurring compound in the cannabis plant known for its medical benefits.

Patients are not required to have permits to use cannabis products, but their caregivers are required to register with the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services by providing a written statement that the patient is under medical care and has been diagnosed with a condition such as intractable epilepsy to be treated with hemp extract.

Do you need a permit to use CBD?

North Carolina residents do not need permits to purchase CBD products but must be at least 18 years old to buy them.

State lawmakers passed a bill last year that permanently removed hemp — the crop used to produce popular CBD health products– from the state’s list of controlled substances, The News & Observer reported.

By definition, hemp must have a THC concentration of less than 0.3%.

How will patients get permits if medical marijuana is legalized?

If the Compassionate Care Act passes, individuals with qualifying medical conditions and written permission from a physician, and designated caregivers can submit applications to NCDHHS for registry identification cards for medical marijuana.

Patients under 18 can qualify for identification cards if:

  • The patient’s physician has explained the potential risks and benefits of cannabis to the patient and their parent or legal guardian.

  • The patient’s physician restricts the patient’s use of cannabis to a non-inhalation consumption method.

  • The patient’s parent or guardian provides written permission for the patient to use cannabis.

NCDHHS will approve or deny applications within 45 days, and identification cards will have to be renewed annually, according to the bill.

Patients who carry cannabis or cannabis-infused products will be required to display their identification cards when approached by law enforcement, the bill says.

Evan Moore is a service journalism reporter for the Charlotte Observer. He grew up in Denver, North Carolina, where he previously worked as a reporter for the Denver Citizen, and is a UNC Charlotte graduate.

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