Minimum age to marry in NC now 16

Published 12:01 am Friday, August 27, 2021

Associated Press

RALEIGH — North Carolina’s minimum age to be married is now higher after Gov. Roy Cooper signed a measure Thursday increasing it from 14 to 16.

The increase, which takes effect immediately but doesn’t void previous marriages, comes after the General Assembly gave unanimous support to the new threshold earlier this month.

North Carolina lawmakers acted as officials said the state had turned recently into a destination locale  for out-of-state couples seeking to wed and in which one marriage applicant is a minor. States adjoining North Carolina had raised their minimum age to 16 or 17 in recent years.

North Carolina’s new law still requires 16- or 17-year-olds to receive parental permission or a judge’s approval to get married, and the age difference between the youth and their spouse now can be no more than four years.

Women’s rights advocates and child protection groups this year sought unsuccessfully to raise North Carolina’s age to 18 with no exceptions — which is the law in six states.

“This legislation is an important step toward ending child marriage in North Carolina and instituting more protections for children,” Cooper said in a news release announcing the bill signing. “While it falls short of raising the age of marriage to 18, it will make our state a safer place for children.”

Now Alaska is the lone state whose law expressly allows marriages as young as 14, according to the group Unchained at Last. There’s no set minimum age in nine states, where they rely instead on case law or a judge’s rulings.

Medical marijuana bill advances

RALEIGH (AP) — A bill legalizing marijuana for medical use in North Carolina and developing a system to grow and sell it cleared two more legislative hurdles this week in the Senate.

The Senate Health Care Committee voted for the measure on Thursday, two days after the judiciary committee approved an updated version compared to what it originally recommended in late June.  The measure could be on the Senate floor as soon as next week.

The measure would let patients purchase and use marijuana from medical cannabis centers if their physician declares in writing they have one of more than a dozen “debilitating medical conditions” listed and that cannabis could bring health benefits. An amendment approved Thursday increases the amount of a prescribing physician’s required training from three to 10 hours.

A new state commission would issue 10 medical cannabis supplier licenses, each of which would allow the opening of four sales centers. Additional restrictions would prevent centers from locating near churches or schools and operating late at night. The state would collect monthly fees from suppliers equal to 10% of gross revenues.

Public speakers at committee meetings have featured war veterans with post-traumatic stress and others with severe illness who say marijuana will ease pain or help them lead more normal lives.

Representatives of conservative Christian groups have said the safety and efficacy of cannabis isn’t settled, and that medical marijuana would ultimately lead to the legalization of recreational use.

The House has yet to consider the measure.