With every state in America having its own laws regarding cannabis, it could be quite frustrating to keep up with the different developments in various states. In this short series Cannabisradar.info will try to shed some light on the matter, focusing on the political debate and the possibilities for the near future.
Part 2 covers the historical and current status of cannabis in the following US states: Kentucky / North Carolina / South Carolina / South Dakota
Please click here to read part one:
Historically, the state of Kentucky is known for cultivating hemp for industrial purposes. With its criminalization and the so called “War on drugs” in the 70s of the 20th century made all cultivation of cannabis illegal. It was reintroduced for farmers to grow (only for industrial use) with a federal law in 2014. On the other hand, the use of cannabis for medicine is still prohibited in the state. Again in 2014 there was an approval for non-psychoactive CBD to be prescribed by physicians for epilepsy, but only within the framework of a clinical trial at the University of Kentucky. In the next year a proposed medical marijuana bill failed to pass the state’s Senate, meeting the strong opposition of the National Marijuana Initiative (anti-cannabis organization) and the Kentucky Baptist Convention. They citied that cannabis is not FDA approved and that the majority of drug abusers started with cannabis, even though the bill was trying to establish a market for non-smokable medical cannabis products. A new campaign for decriminalizing cannabis started this year by the Kentucky democrats. In March the Kentucky House Judiciary Committee held a vote on a medical cannabis bill,with very positive result. Delayed actions by the administration postponed actual debates in the Senate, so the bill will have to wait until 2020 for approval. Meanwhile CBD-infused products (without THC) slowly make their way into some Kentucky store chains and industrial hemp growers in the state expand their businesses.
Recent developments of easing the access to medical cannabis products in the state of North Carolina started in 2014 with the introduction of the limited medical marijuana law. It was amended in July 2015 and allows the use of “hemp extract” for the treatment of epilepsy if recommended by a neurologist. For an individual to receive legal protection, they must be diagnosed with epilepsy and under the care of a state-approved neurologist who has tried three or more treatment options that failed. Patients must have a parent, legal guardian, or custodian register as a caregiver on their behalf. Patients and caregivers may only possess lab-certified hemp extracts with greater than 5% CBD and less than 0.9% THC that do not produce psychoactive effects. The hemp extract must be acquired from outside of North Carolina, and there is no mechanism for cultivation or dispensing of medical cannabis, leaving providers without essential legal protection. Similarly, there is no provision for possession of dried cannabis flowers or any other form of the plant beyond extractions. The law automatically expires on July 1, 2021. In 2019, the Senate approved a bill to expand the CBD-focused law to include autism, Crohn’s disease, multiple sclerosis, mitochondrial disease, and other conditions that failed to respond to at least three other treatment options. However, the legislature has adjourned for the year, but will return in 2020 for the rest of its two-year legislative session.
This state has a long story of cultivating industrial hemp which was renewed in 2017 after an 80-year ban. In 2014, after almost a unanimous vote, CBD oils were deemed legal for children with severe epilepsy to help control their seizures, but only with a physician’s recommendation. In 2018 the Compassionate Care Act was introduced into the General Assembly where it was passed and advanced on to the House. This act would allow doctors to prescribe medical marijuana to patients with serious illnesses, such as epilepsy or post-traumatic stress disorder. With a dispensary in every county, the act would allow those that need medical cannabis to buy up to two ounces every two weeks. Cannabis could be purchased but not smoked in leaf form. It can only be used in forms such as vaporized oil, gel caps, suppositories, patches or topical creams. The debate for further legalization of cannabis in the state continued in 2019. Public polls show that most of the population is in favor of the legalization movement, regardless of their political affiliation. Unfortunately, no real legal advancement has been made since the introduction of the Compassionate Care Act and lawmakers that support the change have expressed their decision to further “educate” their colleagues on the matter before taking the final steps in 2020.
The anti-cannabis laws in South Dakota are among the harshest in all of USA. Even testing positive for cannabis is considered felony. Possession of just small amounts is punishable by a year in jail and two-thousand dollars fine. Despite that, attempts for legalization of marijuana for medical purposes started back in 2006. Two ballot initiatives failed between 2006 and 2010. In 2016 The South Dakota Medical Marijuana Initiative failed to make the 2016 ballot in South Dakota as an initiated state statute. The measure would have legalized medical marijuana in the state. A year later though, the State Senate passed legislation removing cannabidiol from the definition of marijuana and making it a Schedule IV controlled substance and legal to use so long as any recommended CBD oil is approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Last year the continued efforts to legalize medical and adult-use cannabis failed yet again to qualify for the 2018 ballot due to lack of enough valid signatures. That Initiative would have allowed access to cannabis and cannabis-derived products for patients with debilitating medical conditions, including cancer, glaucoma, HIV and AIDS, epilepsy, hepatitis C, Crohn’s disease, chronic pain and PTSD. The next initiative, that South Dakotans expect to finally make a change, is for the legalization proposal to appear as an initiated state statute on the ballot on November 3, 2020. More about it could be read here.
The Cannabisradar-Team wishes you an nice day!