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N.C. bill would make medicinal pot legal
Proposal would limit drug's availability
 
Published Thursday, February 7, 2013 1:06 pm
by Herbert L. White

A bill introduced in the N.C. House of Representatives would allow doctors to prescribe medicinal marijuana.


Reps. Kelly Alexander of Charlotte and Pricey Harrison of Greensboro are co-sponsors of HB 84, the North Carolina Medical Cannabis Act. The bill, Alexander said today, would help the sick and injured relieve pain through controlled usage of the drug and is similar to programs in 18 states with medicinal marijuana laws. Possession and distribution of pot is a violation of federal law but rarely enforced on a local level.


“Many seriously and chronically ill persons, including many disabled veterans, get relief from their suffering from marijuana,” Alexander said in a statement. “I can’t understand why we would not give seriously ill patients and our veterans anything and everything that gives them relief. Should seriously ill patients be arrested and sent to prison for using marijuana with their doctors’ approval? I cannot believe that North Carolinians want that to happen.”


Alexander cited a poll that found 60 percent of N.C. residents favor legalizing cannabis for medical use, adding that approved use of the drug would limit the possibility of patients acquiring contaminated pot and the criminalization of medicinal use.


“If a doctor agrees and is willing to recommend marijuana, I don’t think our law should get in the way,” Alexander said. “It should provide a framework for safe medical relief with suitable controls.”


Research has found that marijuana has medical benefits for patients who suffering from maladies ranging from AIDS to diabetes and cancer. Medical professionals have also backed marijuana programs, including the American Medical Association, which asked federal officials to reclassify the drug’s status in 2009. HB 84 was crafted to be similar to more conservative laws on the books in states such as Alaska, Michigan, Rhode Island, Vermont and Hawaii. N.C. doctors prescribed pot for patients until 1937 when federal law made the drug illegal.


“In the end, the question for our legislature is whether we have compassion for the seriously ill and for our disabled veterans,” Alexander said. “If we do, we must pass this bill.”

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