Legal versus illegal
A push for legalized marijuana has grown in recent years. As of this year 36 states and four territories allow for medicinal use of cannabis and 17 states, two territories and the District of Columbia have enacted laws to regulate adult use of cannabis.
Marijuana is still illegal in North Carolina, though it has in some ways been decriminalized. Possessing marijuana carries penalties ranging from no jail time to 21 months depending on individual criminal records and amount possessed.
“With New York and Virginia having just, in different ways, legalized it, we hope North Carolina can jump on the train of legalization,” said Laura White, owner of Soul Addict, a hemp grower and producer. “When you have a little more THC in your products a lot of times what we see is patients are able to find higher levels of relief.”
Berkowitz, White and Biddix said they have known people to go outside of the law and purchase marijuana with the intent to self-medicate, mostly with positive results for the user.
But purchasing drugs from an unregulated market and without guidance from a medical professional carries significant risks.
“Buying it off the black market, you don’t know what is in it. You read about people lacing stuff with fentanyl and people overdosing,” said Biddix. “If it is legalized it would guarantee people are buying something that is safer, lab tested, more carefully grown plants for treatment.”