Chris Suttle began making funeral arrangements for his friend five years before his death. He was diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2017 for his work as an insurance consultant. A full craniotomy and a biopsy to see if the tumor was aggressive were options left to him by the doctors.
Rather, the Chapel Hill resident began abusing weed as a treatment option. The use of cannabis greatly reduced his symptoms. He stated “I started my own microdosing procedure with no knowledge of whether this was going to work or not,” Suttle said. “When I went back, we did the scan, the tumor had not shrunk, but it also had not grown and all the swelling in the brain was gone. My speech was back, my vision was back, I wasn’t blacking out, I didn’t have word aphasia anymore.”
My speech had returned, as had my vision, and I no longer had word aphasia. After another six months of microdosing, Suttle’s tumor shrank by a minuscule amount – 0.02 percent – which he attributed to his cannabis use, according to a new scan.
“[My doctor] was amazed,” Suttle said. “You have to remember the last time my doctor saw me was when they gave me this diagnosis.” You have to keep this in mind. He also began advocating for the legalization of marijuana. He’s still at it five years later. When the General Assembly neglected to proceed on a measure legalizing medical marijuana during the legislative session that ended a few weeks ago, he had high hopes that his efforts would bear fruit this year.
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It’s unlikely that lawmakers will take up major legislation when they return to Raleigh on July 26 to wrap up their work for the year. Those like Suttle who want to try medical marijuana in North Carolina will have to wait at least another year, if not two years.
How many people are eligible?
With the Compassionate Care Act, which is expected in 2021, only select people with specific medical illnesses will be prohibited from possessing or using marijuana for medical purposes. Medical Marijuana will be “extremely closely regulated,” according to principal sponsor and Republican state senator Bill Rabon (R-Southport).
Under the Compassionate Care Act, medical marijuana might be used for the following ailments:
- The patient has been diagnosed with HIV (HIV)
- A condition is known as acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS)
- Crohn’s disease
- Anemia of the sickle cell type
- Parkinson’s is a disease.
- Only if there is proof that the applicant has suffered from a traumatic event can we diagnose them with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). For example, proof that the person served in a battle zone, was a victim of a violent and sexual crime, or was the first responder is acceptable evidence.
- Multiple sclerosis (MS)
- The wasting syndrome or cachexia
- Someone who isn’t pregnant but is in hospice or end-of-life care or who is bedridden or confined to their house for some other reason may experience severe or chronic nausea.
- When the patient’s remaining life expectancy is fewer than six months, they have a terminal illness.
- A medical condition that necessitates hospice care.
- The diagnosis or treatment of any other life-threatening disease or medical condition.
It took Rabon’s urging to get the law through the North Carolina Senate, which was eventually enacted over opposition from both sides of the aisle. The bill, on the other hand, came to a standstill in the House. During an interview with NC Health News, Rabon remarked, “The Senate has already agreed that we like the bill,”
The House, it’s now in their hands, and then if they want to make changes, we’ll come back, we’ll sit down together, and we will work out the differences if there are any. Let’s hope there aren’t any.” Advocates in this state hoped the Senate bill would gain traction after Virginia legalized recreational marijuana use in July 2021. According to Suttle, who is chair of one of the Senate’s most influential committees.
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“I had my hopes, I had my dreams,” Even though I’d like to believe that we may finally obtain the legalization we deserve for our state this year, I’m still hopeful that we’ll be able to meet and make progress this year.
After moving to North Carolina from Ohio, Trina Sargent revealed that she has been taking medicinal marijuana for pain relief for more than a year, thanks to the state of Ohio’s Green Compassion Network. Sargent, who has fibromyalgia, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), among other problems, claimed medical marijuana helped her sleep and ease muscle discomfort. Sargent no longer has access to medical marijuana in North Carolina because she moved there.
“It’s hard. It’s very hard because I don’t have it,” Sargent admitted. “My body’s aching all the time. My stomach is bothering me and my sleep patterns are way off. It is really bothering my system.”
“People don’t realize what just marijuana can actually do for the human body. I never took it for recreational uses. Never did that. I researched it before I tried it before I did anything. I was very careful and not having it now it’s changing my body completely. I keep looking on the internet, to find out ‘hey when is the law going to be passed?’”
Sargent and Suttle would not have been eligible for usage even if the Compassionate Care Act had passed this year due to the limited scope indicated in the law. It’s a pain in the neck. During the first Senate hearing on medicinal cannabis, “I stood up in the first Senate hearing that we had on medicinal cannabis and told them that the way the bill is written right now with Senate 711, I would not qualify,” Suttle said. “Therefore I would be dead.”
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Recreational vs. medicinal
Sargent is a strong supporter of the use of medical marijuana to treat pain, but she believes that marijuana should not be used for recreational purposes.
“I just would like to see this law pass. I don’t (use it) for recreation, no, absolutely no, no, no and no,” she argued. “I know people are going to try to find it no matter what, but I don’t agree with them passing the law on recreational use. ”But for medicinal purposes, it should be passed because there are people that are really in pain.”
Allyn Howlett, associate professor of physiology and pharmacology at Wake Forest University School of Medicine and one of the nation’s foremost cannabinoid researchers, says medical marijuana cannot be classified because the Food and Drug Administration failed to approve it for that purpose. According to Howlett, “I just don’t think it should be called medical if it is not going to be going through the Food and Drug Administration and provide the same kinds of data and the same guidelines that all medicines do when they get approved to be used in patients,”
Dr. James Taylor, an anesthesiologist in Southern Pines, says that the legalization of hemp in North Carolina in 2015 has allowed him to use cannabidiol (commonly known as CBD) products to treat his patients. To avoid raising the number of patients who needed opioids, he contends, he would have had to alter the course of their treatment.
“These patients are kind of on the edge. They’re really high for overdose and suicide and to kind of mess with their medication management in a political way, it has risk associated. So I’d be concerned, but I don’t think that’s going to happen.”
While he supports medical marijuana legislation, he believes it needs to be reworked so that hemp farmers and others already working in the hemp sector, such as himself, have a voice in the discussion.
The present measure demands five years of medicinal marijuana industry experience as specified. Hemp businesses in North Carolina would be unable to supply services if medical marijuana were authorized. Southern Pines anesthesiologist James Taylor has used complementary methods to relieve his patient’s pain for many years.
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He expects that in the future, the use of marijuana in the management of pain will be more widely acknowledged. Taylor said, referring to the psychoactive ingredient, tetrahydrocannabinol. “Since we don’t have marijuana here, it almost gave it to out-of-state, big companies, to say ‘only out-of-state big companies who’ve been doing this medical marijuana for five years are allowed to come into our state and provide the services.”
“It really kind of was unjust to the farmers, processors, the extractors and the people like myself, who’ve been working for the last six years in the state to develop the hemp industry, which is the same thing as the medical marijuana industry except all this product doesn’t have the THC in it. We don’t need out-of-staters coming in to tell us how to run a medical marijuana program.”
It’s exciting to see the dialogue taking place in North Carolina, according to Taylor. “I applaud them for putting physicians on the commission and I would encourage them to make sure that number stays high,” he said. “With a medical marijuana program, you really want it being physician-led versus political- or business-led, so I thought they did a nice job of pulling physicians and getting physicians involved in this whole process.”
How is Hemp vs. Marijuana in North Carolina?
This legislative session’s most talked-about issue isn’t medical marijuana. This year’s Farm Act includes significant revisions to the law’s hemp provisions, marking an unusual turn of events. It was announced on June 22nd that hemp provision from the already-enacted 2022 Farm Act would be removed, disappointing some state politicians and Hemp proponents.
After the wording was removed, Sen. Brent Jackson (R-Autryville), the measure’s main sponsor and a supporter of hemp production said he felt like “pigs marching into slaughter” in a House Agriculture meeting on June 22. He wasn’t the only one who had this sentiment. Several local dispensaries that offer hemp-derived CBD, Delta-8, and other goods expressed concern about the viability of their operations.
In the case of Nature’s Releaf Hemp Store co-owner Jennifer Wilson, removing any reference to THC means re-evaluating the entire company, “The store will close if hemp is banned. According to company associate Ian Brown, who spoke with NC Health News, “If you get rid of hemp, you get rid of the store. We would have to turn into something else,”
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The store launched in June 2019 and has now opened three locations and plans to open a fourth in the next three years. When it comes to hemp-derived products like CBD, Delta-8, and other cannabinoids, Nature’s Releaf co-owner Jennifer Wilson knows her stuff. Mona Dougani is the photographer. Leea Carver, another employee from Nature’s Releaf, claimed that being able to give diversity aids a range of people.
“You can’t expect one product to help everybody. You need different things to help with different ailments and different people. If you get rid of any THC language, we’re only able to carry one thing, and we’re only gonna help one kind of person.” Despite the Farm Act’s removal of cannabis language, Hemp remains lawful in the state, thanks to the Conform Hemp with Federal Law bill.
Advocates for medical marijuana have not lost up, despite the lack of progress from the Compassionate Care Act this year. Suttle stated, “We need to protest and we need to be strong.” For the second protest on July 26, “I just started sending out emails and I had a lot of supports from local hemp companies,” said the organizer. After the July 1 recess, lawmakers will reconvene in Raleigh to finish any unfinished business from the previous session.