Lately, there has been a lot of buzz about Senate Bill 31, which recently passed in North Carolina.
People around the web have had huge reactions to this bill, especially on its vague generalizations that could criminalize herbal health practitioners. What’s this bill really saying? Will Senate Bill 31 really make being a herbalist a criminal offence?
The Actual Text of the Bill
Right now, here is an excerpt the text of the bill (which may be subject to change at any time, click here for the official text):
“No person shall perform any act constituting the practice of medicine or surgery, as defined in this Article, or any of the branches thereof unless the person shall have been first licensed and registered so to do in the manner provided in this Article. Any person who practices medicine or surgery without being duly licensed and registered, as provided in this Article, the person shall not be allowed to maintain any action to collect any fee for such services. The person so practising without being duly licensed and registered shall be guilty of a Class I felony.”
What Does This Mean?
The language of this bill means potentially catastrophic consequences for herbalists and other holistic health practitioners. Essentially, it means that the government would be able to reign in all forms of medicine that are outside of their current control, including alternative health care options. To quote “Natural News” in their commentary about Senate Bill 31:
“Senate Bill 31… essentially criminalizes the practice of unlicensed forms of medicine, which includes the work of many naturopaths, homoeopaths, herbalists, aromatherapists, and even some midwives in the state.”
Many forms of alternative medicine aren’t able to be licensed in certain states since they aren’t recognized as being a “legitimate” form of medical practice. For many herbalists, it’s not even possible to get a license unless they have a medical degree from an “approved” school. To quote the Wikipedia article on medical licensing:
“Only those with medical degrees from schools listed in the WHO Directory of Medical Schools or the FAIMER International Medical Education Directory are permitted to apply for medical licensure.
Many herbalists receive training from other herbalists, which may be through educational studies and/or apprenticeships. It’s clear that these apprenticeships and other alternative studies would not be enough to grant a herbalist with a medical license. Before, this wasn’t a problem, since patients have the right to consent to put themselves under the care of a herbalist. Now, however, even if a herbalist has a consenting patient, they will be guilty of a Class I Felony if they attempt to practice holistic health care.
What’s A Class I Felony?
The felony classifications in each state are different, but a Class I Felony is the least severe type of felony in North Carolina. However, this means that those prosecuted under this bill would have an equal felony classification as people who sexually exploit children, burn crosses and make pornographic videos of their neighbours.
Will the Other States Follow Suit?
Perhaps the biggest question that many people outside of North Carolina are wondering, is, “Will my state be next?”. It’s impossible to predict what other states will do now that North Carolina has successfully passed such a controversial bill. If this is something that you’re concerned about, it’s recommended that you write to your state senators and voice your opinions.