Health
4:34 pm
Thu June 26, 2014

NC Lawmakers Approve Bill To Legalize Therapeutic Marijuana Oil

Duke Health's Raleigh Hospital
Credit Duke Medicine

  State lawmakers have approved a bill that would allow the use of a marijuana oil to help treat childhood seizures.

Researchers say the hemp oil extract, known as cannabidiol (CBD), is not psychoactive and would be used to treat only debilitating seizure disorders.

Several lawmakers, like Gladys Robinson (D-Guilford), showed their support for the bill by relating their experiences of having family members with epilepsy.

“The horror of parents not having alternatives is a terrible thing and so this bill moves us forward in research and I'm proud of the fact that we have in North Carolina some of the best research universities,” she said.

Legislators noted that the medicine would not be distributed by pharmacists because it is not yet included on the approved FDA drug list. Instead, families and their neurologists would have to register with the state.

The CBD oil is currently undergoing fast-track FDA clinical trials and would likely take a few years before it’s approved. For that reason, Senator Jim Davis (R-Macon) asked legislators if they could add a 10-year sunset provision to the bill.

“We do not know what exactly the side effects of this drug are and we won’t know until these clinical trials are complete, so I’m kind of concerned that we would allow this to be open-ended,” he said.

Senator Apodoca said the provision is not necessary at this time, as they’d watch the implementation of the legislation very carefully.

With overwhelming support from the House and Senate, the bill now heads to the Governor.