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Does N.C. law prohibit a doctor from discussing the potential medical benefits of marijuana?

Vicky Eckenrode

North Carolina is not one of the 13 states that allow medical marijuana.

But doctors are allowed to talk about medical marijuana use with patients under court rulings that considered the issue a free speech right.

“The First Amendment allows them to discuss it even though use of marijuana itself is illegal,” said Jean Marlowe, executive director of the North Carolina Cannabis Patient Network, which lobbied for a bill this year in Raleigh to make medical marijuana legal in the state. “That right of free speech extends throughout the United States.”

The case, Conant v. Walters, reached the federal Court of Appeals, and the Supreme Court let the earlier decisions stand. It came after California and Arizona began to allow medical marijuana use though the drug still is illegal under federal law.

The federal government was blocked from revoking a physician’s license or investigating a physician because the doctor recommended medical marijuana for a patient.

The court opinions stated the federal government could regulate drug possession but not patient-doctor discussion about it.

So doctors can discuss the risks and benefits of medical marijuana with patients.

Doctors cannot, however, prescribe medical marijuana or help patients in obtaining marijuana.

A bill to protect North Carolina residents using medical marijuana and doctors recommending it for certain patients was introduced this year in the state legislature. It had a hearing, but sponsors said there was not enough support to push for a vote.

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One Response to “ Does N.C. law prohibit a doctor from discussing the potential medical benefits of marijuana?”

  1. On July 28, 2009 at 12:36 pm Jean Marlowe wrote:

    Passage of this bill would not only return equal rights and equal treatment under the law to patients, it would also return their dignity and enable our physicians to finally research cannabis therapies.

    It would also Generate in Excess of $65 Million dollars within the first four years for our state’s budget woes.

    We could return dignity and equal rights to patients and help our state budget at the same time.
    This bill would also create in excess of 1000 jobs across the state as well.
    Visit us on the web at: http://www.nccpn.org and our video channel at: http://www.youtube.com/nccpn.
    Watch your legislators laugh, smirk and giggle during the health committee hearings. The patients do not think this is anything to laugh at.

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