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.
Date posted: July 27, 2009
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