Fight To Legalize Medical Marijuana Moves Forward
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Fight To Legalize Medical Marijuana Moves Forward
Posted by CN Staff on April 16, 2009 at 05:53:37 PT
By Jennifer Calhoun, Staff Writer
Source: Fayetteville Observer
North Carolina -- Jean Marlowe started smoking pot nearly 20 years ago when a nurse told her it might relieve the chronic pain she had suffered from most of her life.Since then, Marlowe, now director of the North Carolina Cannabis Patients Network, has been fighting to make medical marijuana legal in North Carolina. But she may not have to fight much longer.
Last week, a bill was introduced in the state General Assembly to allow patients registered with the state to possess, grow and use the drug for medicinal purposes.Patients would be protected from being refused employment, volunteer positions, organ transplants and child custody rights.What the bill wouldn’t do, however, is legalize marijuana for just anyone.Most patients would have to be suffering from debilitating, chronic or even terminal illnesses that marijuana is scientifically proven to help, and their doctors must recommend it as a necessary treatment option.Medical marijuana is used by patients suffering from various types of cancer, Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS), fibromyalgia and glaucoma, to name a few.The drug can take many forms and is not always psychotropic, meaning it won’t get you high. It can come in the form of the traditional joint, or pills, or it can be applied topically for joint pain or arthritis, Marlowe said.Many medical organizations and associations have endorsed the use of the drug for medicinal purposes, including the American Nurses Association, the American Public Health Association, the American Society of Addiction Medicine and the Arthritis Research Campaign.Other groups, such as the American Medical Association, have asked government health organizations to provide funding for more studies.Still, others oppose the drug’s use, saying it’s dangerous, especially when it’s inhaled.It’s an argument state Rep. Nick Mackey, a Guilford County Democrat who co-sponsored the bill, can’t abide.“We allow doctors to prescribe nuclear medicine — radioactive medicine,” Mackey said. “It’s OK to put radioactive materials in a patient, but not this?”He added: “Bottom line? I don’t think people should have to suffer when there’s a known treatment.”If the bill is passed, North Carolina would join 13 other states that have medical marijuana programs.Rep. Earl Jones, the Guilford County Democrat who introduced the bill, said the program could bring at least $60 million a year in revenue to the state through licensing fees and taxes.Growers would be charged an annual fee of $1,000 for a license to cultivate the plant, and dispensaries would pay $2,000 for a license to sell it.Patients would be charged a fee of about $10 to register with the state and pay sales tax on the product.But even $60 million or more in extra revenue won’t make the bill an easy sell, Jones said.So far, few people have come forward to oppose the bill. Still, Jones is certain the political waters won’t stay quiet very long.“You’re going to have some people who are just political ideologues — who, despite the facts and the research, will have philosophical political opposition to it,” he said.But Jones has been persistent.Last week, he introduced another bill that would ask for a referendum to allow state residents to vote on the issue in November, in case the original bill dies somewhere along the way, he said.This week, Jones plans to submit a bill that would form a task force to study medical marijuana programs. He submitted a similar bill last year, but it was eventually tossed out.But this year could be different, Jones said, thanks to a new political climate — the same one that brought President Obama to the White House.Obama recently made good on a campaign promise when newly appointed U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said the administration would not allow federal marijuana laws to supercede state laws.It’s a change from the Bush administration, which started cracking down on medical marijuana suppliers in states that already had programs in place.Dale Gieringer, the California coordinator for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws and one of the co-authors of California’s medical marijuana law, said suppliers in his state were affected more than patients during the crackdowns.California, which passed a program into law in 1996, has had numerous medical marijuana suppliers. Even with the crackdowns, new ones continued to spring up, Gieringer said.Obama’s election and Holder’s announcement may have sparked a dramatic increase in requests for medical marijuana licenses in states with active programs, according to a story on Wednesday.Some dispensaries reported a 300 percent increase in business since Obama took office, the article said.But the North Carolina bill still has a long way to go, Jones said. “For some people, one plus one is not going to equal two because of political ideology,” he said.But Marlowe hopes those politics can be overcome.“God created this medicine to be a medicine,” she said. “And God created it for us. I think God has a little bit more of a handle on it than all these other people.”Source: Fayetteville Observer (NC)Author: Jennifer Calhoun, Staff WriterPublished: April 16, 2009Copyright: 2009 Fayetteville ObserverContact: eletters fayobserver.comWebsite: http://www.fayobserver.comCannabisNews Medical Marijuana Archives
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Comment #2 posted by rchandar on April 16, 2009 at 15:37:24 PT:
North Carolina
From the Culture War Room 4/16/2009:It's very encouraging to see this as a potential law simply because drug policy reform has never even come close to gaining any success in the Southern states. The past few months has seen half a dozen measures for MMJ and decrim pass in the North and Midwest, and a legalization measure tabled in California. The South, however, has remained firmly rooted in Drug War rhetoric.Until now. Say your prayers for this motion, and hope that it will be trendsetting.--rchandar
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Comment #1 posted by E_Johnson on April 16, 2009 at 10:21:50 PT
Recommend my comments at the NYTIme
Under the article "In Mexico Visit, Obama Plans to Focus on Drug Violence," comments #16 and #18.
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