Thursday, March 4, 2010

Medical pot in N.C.?

Posted By on Thu, Mar 4, 2010 at 3:04 PM

Despite the fact that organizers will not be handing out free samples, a sizeable crowd is expected this evening at UNC-Charlotte for a townhall discussion of medical marijuana.

Local state representatives Kelly Alexander Jr. and Nick Mackey, along with Rep. Earl Jones of Greensboro, will explain the bill they have proposed which would make North Carolina the 15th state to legalize marijuana use for people with debilitating conditions

Medical marijuana, although approached tentatively at first by the states that have approved it, has seen public support rise significantly since enactment. The increased public approval is largely seen as evidence that citizens have heard of people they know who have been relieved of living in constant pain. Evidence for the benefits of medical marijuana is plentiful, but opposition is expected in the House.

We hope the legislature will study the results of legalization in other states, and allow the bill to pass. Unfortunately, archaic views of marijuana use are still prevalent in this state, including one lawmaker who has said he’s afraid legalizing medical marijuana would “lead to addiction.” Nothing like doing your research before opening your mouth, huh?

The proposed North Carolina bill would also license producers of pot for sale to the state, as well as the dispensaries that would distribute it. Supporters say such an arrangement would bring in around $60 million for state coffers, through taxes and licensing fees. Opponents so far include police groups that claim medical marijuana in the state would lead to a general acceptance of drug use. Some supporters point out, in reply, that pot busts have become a big source of revenue for police departments, thus explaining part of law enforcers’ opposition to the bill.

Other opponents say legalizing medical marijuana is just the first step toward legalizing pot altogether. If that is true, then I say it’s another good reason to pass the medical marijuana bill. As we’ve written before, pot use has become so common in the U.S. that, for millions of Americans, the process of acquiring small quantities of marijuana are now as ordinary and familiar as the checkout routine at a liquor store. The differences, of course, are that liquor is a much more dangerous substance, and you won't be arrested for buying it.

We also support a bill introduced in the U.S. House by Reps. Ron Paul and Barney Frank (talk about bipartisanship!) to legalize the possession of up to 100 grams of pot, and the transfer between adults of up to 1 ounce. If that bill is passed, state laws would remain in effect, but it would doubtless open the door to states following the federal government's lead.

Tonight's meeting is open to the public. It starts at 6 p.m. at UNC Charlotte, in the Cone Center's Lucas Room, and is slated to last two hours.


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