The North Carolina Senate on Thursday gave initial approval to a bill to legalize medical marijuana.
Just one day after clearing a key Senate committee that is chaired by the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Bill Rabon (R), the legislation passed the full chamber on second reading in a 35-10 vote. The NC Compassionate Care Act previously advanced through three separate panels last year.
“This bill is going to, in my opinion, help a lot of people at the end of their life at a time that they need some compassion,” Rabon said on the floor ahead of the vote.
Medical cannabis can help people “at a time that what few days, or what little time they have left, should be as comfortable and as easy as they can be,” the senator, who is a cancer survivor, said. “I think it is our duty as lawmakers to pass legislation that helps people who need our help.”
One more vote on third reading, expected next week, will be required to formally send the measure to the House of Representatives for consideration.
Here’s what the NC Compassionate Care Act as amended would accomplish:
Patients would be allowed to access cannabis if they have a “debilitating medical condition” such as cancer, epilepsy, HIV/AIDS, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis and post-traumatic stress disorder.
The committee substitute adopted in in August by the Senate Judiciary Committee changed the list somewhat to allow patients with terminal illnesses and have six months to live, as well as those with conditions resulting in hospice care, to also qualify for cannabis.
Patients could possess up to one and a half ounces of marijuana, but home cultivation would not be permitted.
The definition of what constitutes a “cannabis-infused” product was also changed in the latest substitute version. Such products include “a tablet, a capsule, a concentrated liquid or viscous oil, a liquid suspension, a topical preparation, a transdermal preparation, a sublingual preparation, a gelatinous cube, gelatinous rectangular cuboid, lozenge in a cube or rectangular cuboid shape, a resin or wax.”
Smoking and vaping would also be allowed, but doctors would need to prescribe a specific method of delivery and dosages for patients under the revised legislation. And they would need to reevaluate patients’ eligibility for the program at least once a year.
The bill provides for up to 10 medical marijuana suppliers who control the cultivation and sale of cannabis. Each supplier can operate up to four dispensaries.
Under the bill, a Compassionate Use Advisory Board would be established, and it could add new qualifying medical conditions.
Separately, a Medical Cannabis Production Commission would be created to ensure that there’s an adequate supply of cannabis for patients, oversee licensing and generate enough revenue to regulate the program.
Advocates are still hoping to see further revisions to expand the proposed program and promote social equity.
The measure would further create a North Carolina Cannabis Research Program to “undertake objective, scientific research regarding the administration of cannabis or cannabis-infused products as part of medical treatment.”
There are also protections for patients included in the latest version. It stipulates that employees and agents of the state must treat possession of cannabis for qualified patients the same as any other prescribed controlled substance.
Further, the bill includes limitations on where marijuana can be smoked or vaped, and includes restrictions on the locations and hours of operation for medical cannabis businesses. It also allows regulators to place a “limitation on the number of written certifications a physician may issue at any given time.”
Prior to voting on the bill itself on Thursday, the Senate adopted an amendment from Rabon. Among other changes, it makes it so the 10 licensed medical marijuana suppliers that would be permitted could each operate up to eight dispensaries, rather than four as would be the case under earlier versions of the bill. It also clarifies conflict of interest rules for physicians and testing laboratories, revises fees and reporting requirements for medical cannabis businesses and makes technical corrections to the measure.
A separate amendment from Sen. Julie Mayfield (D) sought to direct regulators to consider creating separate license categories to approve “500 growers, 80 manufacturers and 100 retailers” for the medical cannabis program.
“The licensing structure in this bill invites only very large multi-state corporations in to be eligible to participate in this new market,” she said, noting the bill’s vertical integration requirements for the industry. “Indeed, no North Carolina company can get one of the licenses that is created in this bill.”
Mayfield’s amendment was tabled, however.
Meanwhile, new poll from the Carolina Partnership for Reform found that 82 percent of North Carolina voters are in favor of legalizing medical cannabis—including 75 percent of Republicans, 87 percent of unaffiliated voters and 86 percent of Democrats.
A separate question found that 60 percent of voters back adult-use legalization.
The new survey shows a rise in increase for support for medical cannabis legalization since voters were prompted with the question earlier this year, with the results showing that with three in four say patients should have access to marijuana for medical use.
While advocates have their doubts about broad reform being enacted in North Carolina this session, the Senate leader, Berger, has acknowledged that opinions are shifting when it comes to marijuana in the state, and he said that Rabon specifically “for a long time has looked at the issue.”
“I do sense that public opinion is changing on marijuana—both medical and recreational,” Rabon said previously. “I don’t know where the members of the General Assembly are at this time in terms of support for the bill, but it’s something we’ll look at and we’ll see how things move along.”
A task force convened by North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper (D) backed decriminalization as part of a series of policy recommendations on racial equity that were released in 2020. The group also said prior cannabis convictions should be expunged and the state should consider whether to more broadly legalize marijuana.
Under current law, possessing more than half an ounce up to 1.5 ounces of cannabis is a class 1 misdemeanor, subject to up to 45 days imprisonment and a $200 fine. In 2019, there were 3,422 such charges and 1,909 convictions, with 70 percent of those convicted being nonwhite.
The federal legalization of hemp through the 2018 Farm Bill removed restrictions on a wide range of molecules produced by the cannabis plant—including, a new court ruling says, the psychoactive cannabinoid delta-8 THC.
A panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit wrote in an opinion published Thursday that products containing delta-8 THC are generally legal because federal law defines hemp as “any part of” the cannabis plant, including “all derivatives, extracts, [and] cannabinoids,” that contains less than 0.3 percent delta-9 THC by weight.
The law, the court said in the 3-0 ruling, “is silent with regard to delta-8 THC.”
Delta-9 THC, often referred to simply as THC, is the most abundant psychoactive cannabinoid in marijuana and remains federally illegal, classified as a Schedule I controlled substance. By contrast, Delta-8 THC typically occurs in only trace amounts in the cannabis plant.
Current cultivation and manufacturing techniques, however, allow for so-called minor cannabinoids to be concentrated from hemp plants and refined into consumer products. And delta-8 THC products have surged in popularity in recent years, especially in states where marijuana remains illegal.
Like its more famous counterpart, delta-8 THC also has psychoactive properties, although proponents say the experience is generally more subdued and has gentler side effects than delta-9 THC. Health officials and even some advocates of marijuana legalization, however, say far less is known about the health impacts or potential risks of delta-8 THC.
The Ninth Circuit panel, for its part, noted that although delta-8 THC has “psychoactive and intoxicating effects,” it falls within federal law’s definition of hemp and is therefore legal.
“Regardless of the wisdom of legalizing delta-8 THC products, this Court will not substitute its own policy judgment for that of Congress,” Judge D. Michael Fisher wrote for the three-judge panel, which also included Judges Andrew Kleinfeld and Mark Bennett. All three were appointed by Republican presidents.
If lawmakers inadvertently created a loophole and didn’t intend to legalize psychoactive substances such as delta-8 THC, Fisher said, “then it is for Congress to fix its mistake.”
Oral argument in the case took place in March.
The Ninth Circuit ruling stems from a dispute over alleged trademark and copyright infringement that hinged on delta-8 THC’s legality. In it, AK Futures, which manufactures e-cigarettes and vaping products, claimed that a Los Angeles company, Boyd Street Distro, had been selling counterfeit versions of its branded products that contain delta-8 THC.
Boyd Street Distro responded that the trademark and counterfeit claims were invalid on the grounds that delta-8 THC is federally illegal. But in its opinion this week, the Ninth Circuit panel disagreed, upholding a lower court’s preliminary injunction against Boyd Street Distro.
“The record on appeal convinces us that AK Futures’ delta-8 THC products are lawful under the plain text of the Farm Act and may receive trademark protection,” the new opinion concludes.
For its part, Boyd Street said in the case that it purchased the products from a person who said they were an authorized dealer of the brand. The company has already sold its entire inventory of the products in question, it claimed in court, and has “no plans” to sell the brand in the future.
Darrel Menthe, a lawyer for Boyd Street, told the San Francisco Chronicle that he had seen no evidence that Congress had intended to legalize delta-8 THC. If products containing the cannabinoid are deemed broadly legal, he predicted, “federal and state governments will probably get in the business of making sure it’s safe and not marketed to children.”
Menthe said Boyd Street had no immediate plans to appeal the decision.
Dale Gieringer, NORML’s California director, told the Chronicle that it would make more sense from a policy perspective to simply legalize delta-9 THC, which he said “has been studied exhaustively in thousands of subjects and research protocols over the decades.”
Following the passage of the 2018 farm bill, delta-8 THC and some other minor cannabinoids entered a sort of legal gray area. Many businesses in the hemp industry insisted the products were legal, but officials in many jurisdictions disagreed.
The issue is increasingly bubbling up to the federal level. Earlier this month, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued its first set of warning letters to companies over the allegedly illegal sale of products containing delta-8 THC.
FDA previously released a notice cautioning consumers about such products, similar to how the agency has sent warning letters to certain businesses over unauthorized marketing around CBD.
FDA rules currently don’t allow for the marketing of cannabinoids in the food supply, though lawmakers and advocates have been pushing the agency to craft regulations permitting such activity for CBD since hemp was federally legalized.
Congressional lawmakers from both parties have been pushing FDA to develop rules on CBD. But during a U.S. House committee hearing on Thursday, FDA Commissioner Dr. Robert M. Califf said he needs more support from Congress to do so.
“I don’t think the current authorities we have on the food side or the drug side necessarily give us what we need to have to get the right pathways forward,” the commissioner said.
The Drug Enforcement Administration, meanwhile, signaled late last year that delta-8 THC was legal.
In Texas last year, the state government said delta-8 THC was illegal—a move that opponents challenged in court, securing a pause on state enforcement of the ban.
Source: Marijuana Moment
Ontario, Canada: The use of cannabis products is associated with perceived improvements in insomnia in patients suffering from either anxiety or depression, according to data published in the journal BMC Psychiatry.
A team of Canadian researchers assessed the effectiveness of cannabis in managing insomnia in a cohort of 677 subjects. Study participants suffered from either anxiety, depression, or from both conditions simultaneously. Subjects self-administered cannabis products at home and reported symptom changes in real time on a mobile software application. Investigators analyzed reports from over 8,400 cannabis-use sessions recorded over a three-year period.
Consistent with prior reports, subjects from all three groups reported significant benefits from cannabis. Participants perceived CBD-dominant products to be less effective than others.
“This naturalistic investigation of cannabis use for insomnia suggests that individuals with depression, anxiety, and comorbid depression and anxiety perceive benefits from using cannabis for sleep,” authors concluded. “In addition, compared to other cannabis strains, CBD-dominant products may be less helpful for sleep, specifically in individuals with depression. The current study highlights the need for placebo-controlled trials investigating the efficacy and safety of cannabinoids for sleep in individuals with mood and anxiety disorders.”
Republican Gov. Glen Youngkin’s recent attempt to recriminalize activities involving the possession of two ounces of marijuana by adults via the enactment of an amendment to SB 591 has been defeated for the session. That effort failed on Wednesday with lawmakers’ refusal to advance the bill it was added to, SB 591.
Legislators voted to re-refer SB 591 to the Senate Rehabilitation and Social Services committee. With the 2022 legislative session having already ended, this vote effectively ends any further discussion on the legislation this year.
JM Pedini, NORML’s Development Director and the Executive Director of Virginia NORML, said, “The good news is, Governor Youngkin’s effort to recriminalize personal possession failed. The bad news is lawmakers’ inaction today allows for products containing unregulated and potentially unsafe synthetically-derived THC products to continue to proliferate in Virginia.”
Pedini added, “With his attempt to create new ways to criminalize Virginians for personal possession of cannabis having failed, Governor Youngkin’s administration should actually serve his constituents by establishing a legal adult-use marijuana market and ensuring that all cannabis products sold in the Commonwealth are accurately labeled and regulated for consumer safety.”
Commenting on the failure to approve the base text that would have regulated currently unregulated synthetically derived THC and novel THC products, JM Pedini added: “Sending SB 591 back to the Senate Rehabilitation and Social Services committee is not in the interest of public health or safety. By failing to take legislative action, unregulated products containing synthetically-derived THC will continue to be sold at retail and wholesale outside of the strict regulatory oversight currently required for legally produced cannabis products. Consumers deserve to know what they’re purchasing, and far too often what’s on the label is not what’s in the package when it comes to unregulated products.”
Personal possession and the cultivation of small quantities of cannabis by adults 21 and older is already permitted in Virginia under the 2021 legalization law approved by former Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam. Senate lawmakers approved separate legislation earlier this year to establish retail cannabis sales, but the bill died in the House after Republican members of the House General Laws Subcommittee rejected the measure.
Knowing your ideal THC dosage is like a weed passport. Once you’ve found the milligram range or THC percentage that works best for you, the vast world of cannabis is yours to explore. But in the same way that planning for a big trip requires time and effort, so does finding your dose.
Learn how to find the right dose for you by product type, how to incrementally adjust the dose, and how different factors can affect a cannabis high.
Dosing considerations for different product types
The cannabis product you’re interested in consuming will play a large role in determining how much you need to consume to feel high.
Smoking cannabis flower provides a quick onset of effects. You can expect to feel high within minutes of inhaling cannabis smoke, so you’ll know whether you consumed too much or too little fairly quickly. That high will then peak roughly 30 minutes after inhalation before tapering off for an hour or so.
Cannabis strains vary widely in potency, cannabinoid content, and terpene content — all of which can affect your high. Luckily, lab-tested products purchased from licensed, legal dispensaries come with certificates of analysis that make the dosing process accurate and easy. Look for the THC percentage on a package of cannabis flower to determine how much of an effect you can expect to get from one puff of a joint or bong rip.
- 10% THC or less: flower in this range is considered mild
- 10 – 20% THC: strong for beginners and often just right for casual consumers
- 20% THC and above: some of the strongest weed you’ll find
Bottom line: Make note of the THC percentage before you consume, take one puff, and wait 15 minutes before consuming more to get a sense of how that potency affects you.
Most vape pens and cartridges are pre-filled with cannabis oil, a type of cannabis concentrate. Vapes heat cannabis oil to its vaporization point, producing a potent vapor that cannabis consumers can inhale. Similar to smoking cannabis, vaporizing cannabis produces an effect within minutes that then peaks after 30 minutes or so.
Vapes can produce a strong cannabis high with minimal effort, so it’s wise to exercise caution when trying vapes for the first time.
Bottom line: Make note of the vape’s THC percentage before you consume, take one pull on your vape pen, then wait 15 minutes before consuming more to get a sense of how that potency affects you.
Cannabis concentrates are highly potent, containing an average of 60% to 99% THC. When sold outside of pre-filled vapes, cannabis concentrates can be consumed in larger quantities via a dab rig. Dabbing concentrates is considered an advanced consumption method, and as such, it is not recommended for beginner cannabis consumers.
Bottom line: Only seasoned, highly tolerant consumers should experiment with dabbing cannabis concentrates. Start with a scoop of concentrate no bigger than a grain of rice when dabbing for the first time.
The body processes THC differently when it’s ingested rather than inhaled. After digestion, the liver transforms THC into 11-hydroxy-THC, a compound that’s more potent, lasts longer, and has more sedating properties than THC. The effects of an edible can take anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours to kick in. Once they do, the effects can last for several hours depending on the dose and the consumer’s metabolism.
So far we’ve been talking about THC in terms of percentages, but with cannabis edibles, the potency is measured in milligrams. For example, a tin of weed gummies at your local dispensary might have 100 mg THC per package and 5 mg THC per gummy. For beginners trying to wrap their heads around what these numbers mean, here’s a quick breakdown:
- 1 – 2 mg THC: a microdose and the ideal place to start for beginners
- 2 – 5 mg THC: could be considered a microdose or low dose depending on tolerance
- 5 – 10 mg THC: the most common range for casual consumers
- 10 – 50 mg THC: considered strong and for experienced consumers
- 50 mg THC and above: considered very strong and typically reserved for medical patients and daily consumers
Bottom line: Start with a dose of 2 mg THC if you’re trying edibles for the first time and gradually increase the dose by 1 mg at a time. Wait 24 hours between each experiment until you find the ideal dose for you.
Cannabis tinctures are made by dissolving cannabis in an alcohol or oil solution. Tinctures can be consumed sublingually (under the tongue) or mixed into a beverage or food. When consumed sublingually, the effects of a tincture kick in within 20 to 30 minutes and last two to three hours. When consumed like an edible (i.e. mixed into food or beverage), the experience is similar to that of an edible.
Ideally, tinctures are meant to be absorbed via blood vessels in the mouth. This requires dropping some tincture under the tongue, allowing the product to remain in the mouth for two to three minutes and even rubbing it in to ensure absorption. Should you swallow the tincture before it’s fully absorbed, it will operate more like an edible, taking longer to kick in and providing effects for much longer as well.
Bottom line: Exercise the same caution with tinctures as you would with edibles. Start with a THC dosage of 2 mg and gradually increase the dose by 1 mg every 24 hours until you find the ideal dose for you.
Factors that may affect your experience
Your unique endocannabinoid system (ECS). The endocannabinoid system consists of cannabinoid receptors, lipids, and enzymes that perform a large role in maintaining homeostasis, or our internal regulatory balance. All mammalian vertebrates have an endocannabinoid system that interacts with the cannabinoids we produce ourselves (endocannabinoids) and the cannabinoids found in cannabis (phytocannabinoids). How many cannabinoid receptors a person has and how their ECS operates affect how sensitive they are to THC and other cannabinoids. This is also why some cannabis consumers find success with 1 mg of THC while others require much larger doses.
How quickly you develop a tolerance. Your ideal THC dosage can change over time as you develop a tolerance for the cannabinoid. The ECS is a highly tuned instrument that responds to overstimulation by diminishing cannabinoid receptors, meaning that over time, higher doses will be required to achieve the same effect. You can keep your tolerance in check by taking tolerance breaks and being mindful of how much you consume.
Why the lowest effective dose is the best dose
“Start low and go slow” is common advice with clinical research to back it up. A 2012 study published in the Journal of Pain showed that patients with advanced cancer experienced more effective pain relief with fewer side effects by using lower doses of cannabis spray. Another study published in the Journal of Pain found that low doses of vaporized cannabis were equally effective in relieving nerve pain as higher doses and the smaller doses were less likely to have a significant impact on daily cognitive function.
While there is no known lethal dose of cannabis, it’s possible to experience unwanted anxiety or paranoia by consuming too much. By starting with the lowest dose of THC possible and increasing incrementally until you find the sweet spot for you, you can avoid unintended consequences.