RALEIGH, NC - State representatives are considering legalizing medical marijuana.
The Medical Marijuana Act and a separate bill allowing a November referendum on the issue have passed on first reading in the house.
Next the health committee will debate the matter.
Bill sponsor Representative Earl Jones, (D) Guilford County, said this measure is a compassion issue to give patients suffering with debilitating illnesses a better quality of life.
"There is really no excuse for people who have a great deal of pain and suffering to get arrested by law enforcement," said Rep. Jones.
He's prepared for an uphill battle.
Minority House Leader Representative Skip Stam, (R) Wake County said, "I have sympathy for the people who need it, but we just can't do it. It would be bad for our young people is marijuana becomes more accesible. If you make it available for medical purposes, it becomes a lot more accesible."
The bill clearly defines medical purposes. Doctors could prescribe the drug, licensed pharmacies would dispense it and patients would carry an authorization card allowing them carry a small amount of pot.
Rep. Jones see a double benefit. Medical marijuana would help thousands of patients suffering with cancer, multiple sclerosis and glaucoma. He also estimates the regulated growth and sale of cannabis in North Carolina could generate $60 million annually.
By Kim Genardo
April 14, 2009