N.C. Rep. Earl Jones (D-Guilford), the primary sponsor of the proposed measure to legalize marijuana use to alleviate certain medical conditions, says eventual passage of the bill is no pipe dream. But it won’t be happening soon.
Passage is not likely during the current General Assembly session. A process of educating fellow lawmakers and the public about the benefits of medical marijuana must be accomplished first, Jones says. “I feel confident there will be some positive movement on the part of the legislature in the next couple years,” he says. “I feel optimistic about the prospects of it passing next year or the following year.”
The bill would allow people with debilitating medical conditions and qualified caregivers to possess an “adequate supply” of the drug. Jones says the state would benefit from revenues derived from sale of the controlled substance, but more importantly, those who suffer from diseases such as cancer and glaucoma will be able to use marijuana to ease their pain. Other medical conditions covered under the bill include positive status for HIV, AIDS, hepatitis C, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, severe migraines and rheumatoid arthritis.
Jones proposes two separate options to legalize medical marijuana. One involves passage of the law by the General Assembly, and the other would set up a public referendum to decide the issue. “My colleagues in the legislature are a little more positive about the benefits of medical marijuana,” Jones says.
Thirteen states have laws in place to allow marijuana use by patients to treat illness without the possibility of punishment, according to the Marijuana Policy Project. Possession of marijuana remains prohibited by federal law.
To see a copy of the bill, go to http://www.ncga.state.nc.us/Sessions…L/H1380v0.html
Date posted: July 23, 2009
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