McCrory signs hemp oil bill for epilepsy treatment

Cannabis sativa. Image credit: Flickr via Martius


 RALEIGH — Late yesterday Governor Pat McCrory signed into law a bill that authorizes certain  neurologists to recommend hemp oil to treat intractable epilepsy without participating in a pilot study.  Rep. Pat McElraft (R-Carteret) has passionately fought for allowing access to the hemp, or CBD oil over the past several years. She’s become very close to some of the families whose children are incapacitated with hundreds of seizures every day.

Rep. Pat McElraft (R-Carteret)

“We are so excited that it will be the help that these children need.  So many of these children and their parents have been waiting to have the CBD oil available to them,” said McElraft.  “They can soon see the positive results in their own children that we have seen in the children who have acquired the CBD oil in Colorado. “

CBD oil is made from genetically modified marijuana plants that are low in THC, the element that produces a high.  It’s been shown effective in preventing seizures anecdotally and is being studies in clinical trials.

Last session a bill was passed allowing North Carolina patients to get it through a pilot study of its effectiveness. But none of the three university hospitals in the state elected to participate in the study.

This year House Bill 766 expanded access and, with the help of Senator Tommy Tucker, went through both the chambers. In the bill neurologists can recommend the oil, but not prescribe it, as it will not be accessible in pharmacies and patients will not be allowed to make their own.  The oil is available online.   The level of support was a surprise for some insiders who point out how tough it is to get members to vote for a bill allowing any level of medicinal use of the marijuana plant.

McElraft worked hard to get the word to members that the oil does not produce a high and brought parents to meet with her colleagues, sharing their hopes for the oil’s effectiveness. McElraft say it’s a new day for some suffering North Carolina kids.

“Now all neurologist across the state of North Carolina will be able to recommend the CBD oil to those children who were not in the clinical trial,” said McElraft.

The bill was one of nine bills signed by Governor McCrory yesterday.  The full list can be found here.