RALEIGH, N.C. (WGHP) – Marijuana and cannabis products in prescription drugs are now officially decriminalized in North Carolina – if the federal government says they are.

Gov. Roy Cooper on Tuesday signed Senate Bill 448, which removes medications containing marijuana and tetrahydrocannabinols – you may have heard of it as THC – from the list of Schedule VI drugs that are policed by law enforcement.

But this isn’t medical marijuana, which has passed the state Senate but not yet been considered by the state House – and may not be until at least next year.

This is related to the decriminalizing of hemp relative to federal law, as approved in the Farm Bill that allows for hemp products in the state.

This requires that those products are automatically lawful in North Carolina if these factors are met:

  • The Federal Drug Administration approves the use of the prescription drug.
  • The Drug Enforcement Administration makes the appropriate change to federal controlled substance schedules.
  • The North Carolina Commission for Mental health, Developmental Disabilities and Substance Abuse does not object to excluding the new drug from Schedule VI.

If the commission doesn’t object to a specific drug, that drug automatically would be excluded from Schedule VI.

This law is so based on federal law that its active date isn’t even specified because it depends on the FDA.

Medical marijuana, as specified in Senate Bill 711, would require doctors to write a prescription for the marijuana processed to treat certain maladies, and it would license dispensaries to be used to obtain that marijuana.

The hemp bill, SB 455, which passed June 2 but has not been signed by Cooper, allows farmers to continue to grow hemp as a foundation for the fiber found in rope and garments and other products but also for the CBD products, such as oils, vapes and other consumables. The difference is that these products are very low in intoxicants, such as THC, and serve more to soothe people than to make them high.