Medicinal marijuana in the House
Published: Thursday, February 14, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, February 20, 2013 13:02
The introduction of House Bill 84 to the North Carolina House of Representatives has medicinal marijuana activists hoping for a pass through the legislature and a trip all the way to Gov. McCrory’s desk.
The North Carolina Medical Cannabis Act, House Bill 84, was introduced on February 7 to the State House of Representatives. If approved, this bill will legalize use of marijuana medicinally, pending proper prescription by certified doctors.
Currently the bill is sponsored by Representative Kelley Alexander of Mecklenburg County, Representative Pricey Harrison of Guilford County, and Representative Marcus Brandon of Guilford County. All of whom are Democrats.
A heavy force behind the movement to legalize cannabis in North Carolina is the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. For 40 years, NORML has been a voice for those who oppose marijuana prohibition. The North Carolina chapter was started in 2010, a little after the North Carolina’s first attempt to medicinally legalize marijuana in 2009.
Robert Dalton, the vice president of the North Carolina division of NORML, enjoyed marijuana recreationally upon leaving the military. He began researching its medicinal properties and eventually obtained his medical marijuana card from California.
Once back in North Carolina, Dalton realized a clear discrepancy on the issue of marijuana from his previous home state.
“I have a tear in a disc in my back, daily knee pain, and it helped with PTSD from my time in the military. After I moved back to NC, it felt like I stepped into another world in regards to marijuana, so I felt the need to get involved so I'm not arrested or persecuted for being a medicinal user” Dalton said.
On average it takes months for a bill to become a law. But HB84's controversial undertone may mean its passage or denial may take over a year.
The first attempt to legalize appeared before a committee in 2009 with the second coming in 2011. Both previous attempts to legalize, in 2009 and again in 2011, never made it past the committees to go before the legislature.
But Dalton claims that this bill is different, from previous North Carolina bills and even national legislation.
“I believe HB 84 is a much stronger bill than the other states that have passed medical marijuana laws,” Dalton said. “This bill offers more protection to patients, physicians, and parents than most other bills.”
The proposed bill prevents a marijuana patient being discriminated against by landlords, employers and schools, says Dalton.
NORML also argues the legalization of marijuana will create jobs and new revenue.
“It is estimated that the medical marijuana industry in North Carolina would be around $1 billion based on an estimated 100,000 patients, which would generate around $250 million for the state in taxes, licensing fees, and other monies associated with the industry,” Dalton said.
Whether passed or not, pro-cannabis citizens and groups will continue to push for medicinal legalization and eventual recreational use.