The North Carolina Senate gave its final approval to a bill on Monday evening that would legalize medical marijuana across the state, but the fate of the bill remains questionable due to divided views among the House Republican caucus. 

Sen. Bill Rabon, R-Brunswick, spearheaded the effort to legalize medical marijuana in the North Carolina Compassionate Care Act last year. However, the legislation has not made progress in the House thus far. As such, the Senate incorporated the Act into hemp-regulatory legislation in House Bill 563, permitting the sale of cannabis and cannabis-infused products to qualified patients with a debilitating medical condition. 

Advocates argue that marijuana can ease pain and help with health issues such as arthritis. Though some Republicans remain skeptical of a regulated medical cannabis supply system, many conservatives support legalizing cannabis for medical purposes, including Cassie Clark, a North Carolina-based blogger whose content celebrates all the state has to offer.

Based in Fayetteville with roots on the coast and in western North Carolina, Clark’s local perspective on North Carolina matters has landed her statewide popularity on her blog, podcast, and Twitter account. Though she typically stays away from political topics, she revealed her support for legalizing medical marijuana last week while acknowledging her own health struggles. 

“Do I think medical marijuana is a cure all? No. But I do think people like me deserve the right to explore the option and find out if it is better than the poison currently offered,” Clark posted to X

In an interview with the Carolina Journal, Clark detailed her struggles with PTSD for over 20 years. Her treatment has been a battle in itself against pharmaceutical drugs with severe side effects. For years, she was on and off of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), which resulted in side effects including muscle tremors, insomnia, lockjaw, and euphoria. 

“A lot of people don’t realize this,” said Clark. “They think that antidepressants are a godsend. Well, the problem is, there’s a lot of us who can’t handle them, and they come with these really nasty side effects.” 

When the antidepressants seemed unable to solve her anxiety, doctors told her she was bipolar because various SSRI prescriptions weren’t working. Though she disagreed, she began taking a mood stabilizer, which she called ‘awful.’

“I knew that it wasn’t right,” recounted Clark. “And I was like, you know, they just throw these pills at you. I felt like the doctor didn’t listen to me at all.” 

After doing research and learning more about SSRIs, Clark decided she was completely done with them. Instead, she turned to alternative approaches like therapy and low doses of Xanax when experiencing flare-ups. Her decades of first-hand experience have led to her belief that individuals should be able to try alternatives to prescription medications like marijuana. 

“I think for me, the fact that it’s natural,” Clark revealed. “God made it. It’s not something that big pharma made in a lab somewhere. I think that makes me feel a little bit better about it. I don’t look at it as this may not work for me. All of these other medications didn’t work for me. This may not work either. But why should I not be allowed to try it and find out?”

Just nine senators voted against the bill on second reading last week, all of which were Republicans. When it was voted on in last year’s Compassionate Care Act, 10 Republicans voted against it. Since then, Sen. Warren Daniel, R-Buncombe, has flipped to support the legalization. On Monday night’s third reading, after amendments were added, the bill passed with a 36-10 vote.

Clark says many people still hold an outdated mentality that cannabis is the ‘devil’s lettuce’ and attach a stigma to it. But pointing to statistics, polling shows 78% of North Carolina voters support medical marijuana.

“I think it has massive support across the state. It’s kind of mind-boggling that it’s not passed,” she said, remaining ambivalent to recreational use. “I hope that they consider people like me when they vote on this because there’s a lot of us out there. PTSD is a lot more common than people believe. It’s something that can happen from traumatic experiences, even when you’re young. It’s something that you can get from serving in the military or being a police officer.”

The bill will now be returned to the House for consideration.