by: KATELYN FERRAL, Associated Press Updated:RALEIGH, N.C. (AP)strong>
(AP) — North Carolinians with severe epilepsy may soon able to use an extract made from a marijuana plant to treat their disease, as a bill legalizing the treatment heads to Gov. Pat McCrory for his signature.
The bill was approved by both chambers of the General Assembly Thursday. It was approved by the Senate in the morning and the House just hours after. McCrory said Thursday that he will sign the bill into law.
The oil will be legal for North Carolinians with epilepsy who have not responded to at least three treatments and are under the care of a neurologist. If McCrory signs it, the bill will be law as soon as a state registry and other regulations can be established.
Lawmakers say the hemp oil, which is made into syrup and taken by a patient, would not make anyone high. The oil is taken in a dropper and absorbed in the mouth.
"This is not a psychoactive drug. That is taken out. But it does have something in it that will help these folks," said Sen. Thom Goolsby, R-New Hanover.
Bea VanEvery said the oil has reduced seizures in her granddaughter by 70 to 80 percent. Her daughter moved to Colorado to get the treatment for the girl. If McCrory signs the bill, she hopes that they will return to North Carolina. She said she's glad other families don't have to move out of state to get the treatment they need.
"It will just be a great thing for children in North Carolina," she said.
Lawmakers praised the bill on the floor of both chambers saying it will help children and also put the state on the edge in treating this type of epilepsy with East Carolina University, Wake Forest University, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Duke University studying it.
In a statement Gov. McCrory congratulated the General Assembly for passing a bill that helps people, provides common-sense regulation and facilitates clinical research. "This law will help ease the suffering endured by children from whom no other treatments are effective against their seizures," he said.
A Charlotte mother said she still won't give it to her 6-year-old child who has epilepsy.
“The seizure medicine they do give her is already keeping her woozy and keep her on focus and for cannabis oil to be in it and knowing that it's another substance before it, it's kind of like, ‘No, I don't recommend it at all, not for a 6 year old,’” Latia Feaster said.
Others said it is a positive change for North Carolina.
“I think that if it brings ease to someone no matter their age, I think that it's a really positive change in our laws,” Taylor Bureau said.