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Concluding one week before legislation to expand and fully legalize a medical marijuana market in North Carolina was introduced in the 2015 legislative session, a public policy poll found that nearly 70 percent of voters in the Tar Heel State support the use of medical marijuana.

While North Carolina may not be ready for the legalization of cannabis for recreational use, the state reports being ready for medical marijuana with 69 percent responding yes when asked,

“Do you think doctors should be allowed to prescribe marijuana for medical use?”

The survey, commissioned by the local chapter of NORML, was conducted in early January 2015, and consisted of 10 questions. Women made up 53 percent of survey participants and 42 percent of all participants were between the ages of 46 and 65. The amount of people supporting the legalization of medical marijuana has increased by 6 percent since the same poll was conducted in 2013.

Only 37 percent of those surveyed responded yes to the question,

“Do you think the use of [recreational] marijuana should be made legal?”

There were about 80 people, equaling 10 percent, who responded “not sure” to the same question, while 53 percent responded “no.”

This is a significantly lower number than the national average of people who report supporting legalization. The 2013 Gallup Poll found that 58 percent of Americans support the legalization of marijuana. Consistent with the Gallup results, the majority of voters recently approved recreational marijuana measures in Oregon, Alaska and Washington D.C.

marijuana legalization support united states

A very limited bill legalizing the possession and use of only cannabidiol (CBD) oil, a form of targeted single-cannabinoid therapy, for only patients suffering from epilepsy was signed into law by Gov. Pat McCrory in 2014. Unfortunately, just like the same kind of restrictive laws in Kentucky and Iowa, not a single patient has been helped by that type of legislation because it does not establish a system for legally cultivating, processing or distributing the concentrated cannabis oil. This means that in order to possess the medicine, patients would be forced to break the law by either carrying the oil out of a state in which it is legal, or by growing cannabis at home to manufacture the oil.

Recognizing this gap in the area of safe access to medicine, Representative Kelly Alexander with 9 bill co-sponsors introduced the Medical Cannabis Act, which would expand the list of qualifying conditions for which physicians can recommend the use of medical marijuana. If this legislation is passed, it would also establish a regulatory body and licensing system for medical marijuana growers, processors and retailers. This bill also allows for whole plant medicine, which includes all forms of medical marijuana.

It is not yet clear whether this bill will earn enough support from lawmakers to pass in 2015.

photo credit: ABC News

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