Medical marijuana is legal in 33 states and the District of Columbia. Ten of those states allow for recreational marijuana, and the Illinois House just passed a recreational marijuana bill set to go into effect in 2020. New Jersey and New York are considering recreational-cannabis bills, and the Ohio legislature is seriously considering putting the issue up for voter referendum in 2019. Arizona and Florida are not too far behind.

Where does North Carolina stand in the Cannabis Revolution?

Short answer: Somewhere near the back of the pack.

Cannabis bills have been floated in the NC General Assembly for a couple decades now, but this session, one — SB 168 — has made it through the Senate and now, after passing its first reading in the House, waits in committee to see if it will make it through.

SB 168 concerns only cannabis extract, or CBD — less than 1 percent THC, which is the stuff that gets you high — and allows it only in cases of: “intractable epilepsy… autism, multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, mitochondrial disease, or a medical condition diagnosed by a neurologist for which currently available treatment options have been ineffective.”

It’s not much, but right now it’s all we’ve got. And at least the NC General Assembly has learned to differentiate between hemp and cannabis… sort of.

There’s an agricultural bill that’s making its way through the chambers that allows for more farmers to be licensed to grow industrial hemp, as long as they have no drug charges in the last 10 years.

For hemp — which, we remind, is not an intoxicant.

But together they may represent a proverbial crack in the windshield.

When North Carolina joins the Cannabis Revolution, it will bring with it not only a fairly robust consumer market, but also an industrial-grade farming apparatus along with a manufacturing and distribution powerhouse.

Make no mistake: There are former tobacco farmers all over the state who are ready to go. RJR already has the facilities in place to mass-produce a smokable product. And it’s unlikely anything could move forward without including these interests in the plan.

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