Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Session's end and marijuana?

So, I keep hearing from folks working on the budget they are intent on wrapping up the budget next week (it's supposed to be done by Monday night but that won't happen). Anyway, conventional wisdom is it takes two weeks to wrap up session after the budget.

I've had three dates thrown at me-the 15th, 17th, 21st. Any guesses? Perhaps this could be another 8 ball decision over at my colleagues blog The Dome? Or he could get another pool going. Not as interesting as elections but it is a hot topic among the honorables.

I went to a hearing on medical marijuana today. I'll leave the jokes behind and just leave the script instead!

RALEIGH -- A state lawmaker wants North Carolina to study and potentially legalize medical marijuana.

Guilford County Representative Earl Jones filed the bill. Wednesday, a former U.S. Surgeon General testified in favor of it as well.

From 1993-1995, Dr. Joycelyn Elders was the country's top doctor. Nearly 20 years, later she's here in North Carolina advocating medical marijuana.

"We've been using marijuana out there as I said for 5000 years," Dr. Elders said. "It's safer than an awful lot of medications than we have out there on the market."

But opponents say that's not the case.

"When you consider the carcinogens in marijuana alone, it's multiple to that of smoking so this is not really a safe drug to take," Mark Creech from the NC Christian Action League said.

Supporters believe medical marijuana helps health problems related to Alzheimers, AIDS, arthritis, cancer, and multiple sclerosis.

"And if you can prevent nausea and vomiting the body might soon recover but so many of these patients die of starvation because they can't keep anything down," Dr. Elders added.

Rep. Jones agrees and wants north carolina to look into the idea.

12 other states have legalized medical marijuana. Most of them are out west or in the northeast. Rep. Jones of the bill points out this is just a bill to study the idea.

He emphasizes it's a study, but it's clear he supports the idea to help patients with nausea and vomiting.

"Marijuana has clearly demonstrated to stop that process, people gain weight, they have a high quality of life, they are psychologically and emotionally enhanced," Rep. Jones (D-Guilford) said.

"Who's gonna grow it?" Creech asked. "That's a question that has to be considered and can that get out of hand. It has gotten out of hand as I understand it in California."

Lawmakers did not vote on the proposal and it appears House leadership is reluctant to take up the issue. A similar bill failed in the North Carolina legislature in 2003. Recent attempts in Tennessee and South Carolina have failed as well.

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