A bill has been approved by the North Carolina Senate that makes notable changes to a law allowing the use of certain medical marijuana extracts to treat epileptic seizures. The measure will now be sent to Governor Pat McCrory for final approval.
After being approved by the House in April, House Bill 766 or the North Carolina Epilepsy Alternative Treatment Act, was approved by a 15-0 vote in the Senate earlier this month. Several changes were made by the Senate, requiring the final House vote, which approved them 112-2.
The law that the changes will impact is the Hope 4 Haley and Friends Act, which was approved last year to allow limited use of medical cannabis concentrates. The extracts were only allowed on the conditions of having high levels of cannabidiol (CBD) and limited amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
The bill was widely criticized by patient advocates who believed it was too restrictive, only allowing doctors from four North Carolina universities to suggest CBD treatment for patients. The new proposal loosens restrictions by no longer requiring physicians to be affiliated with one of those four universities. Now, physicians must be certified in neurology and associated with any state-licensed hospitals.
Enhanced privacy protections and confidentiality for caregivers and patients in the program is another change featured in the proposal.
Changes to the CBD and THC limit requirements are proposed in Bill 766 as well. With the previous regulations being at least 10% CBD and no more than .3% THC by weight, the state is looking to lower the CBD minimum to 5% and raise the THC limit to .9% by weight.
A sunset clause ending the program 2021 has been included in the new bill, which means that CBD oil would become illegal if studies show no therapeutic benefits.
The law stating that only patients suffering from intractable epilepsy are eligible for legal medical marijuana extracts has remained unchanged in the updated proposal.