Sorry North Carolina. Apparently residents in your state were so in favor of a bill that would have allowed access to medical marijuana that state legislators had no choice but to table discussions and kill the bill before it could even get out of committee. Make sense to you? No? Good. That means you aren't a North Carolina congressperson.
State Rep. Paul "Skip" Stam, a republican from Wake county, says that state lawmakers were being "harassed" by phone and email from North Carolinians in favor of the bill. So instead of moving forward with something that is clearly important for their constituents, they voted to kill the bill with an "unfavorable report." The ruling means that the bill cannot come back up for discussion this legislative session.
Basically, it sounds like the legislature weren't interested in passing the bill in the first place, and are now blaming what they see as over-zealous medical marijuana advocates for what is really the ineptitude of the state legislature. After all, these people are elected officials with the sole job of representing the people that elected them -- how else are their constituents supposed to let them know what issues are important to them aside from calling and emailing?
The bill would have allowed medical marijuana patients to possess up to 24 ounces and grow for themselves so long as the garden isn't larger than 250 square feet. The bill would also have protected medical marijuana patients from being denied state rights and occupational licenses as well as charged the University of North Carolina with studying medical cannabis.
North Carolina Rep. Paul Stam doesn't want to hear from you about marijuana.
Public comments on the bill in committee were heard for only 20 minute before the committee made their decision, mostly from a majority of people in favor of the bill. Included in those speaking was the bill's sponsor, Rep. Kelly Alexander, who urged the council to consider the bill that would help sick patients find medicine and could put as much as $39 million in tax revenue into state coffers.
Alexander spoke with Toke of the Town earlier this month, noting then that the only thing preventing the bill from passing was politics. "I've heard stories that have convinced me that this is something that has an overwhelming humanitarian dimension. Plus, there's a lot of evidence that it works. The only reason that it is not available is politics. Not science, not medicine."
The committee also heard a testimony from 51-year-old cancer survivor Catherine Lyles.
"Today, my purpose is to convince all of you to legalize marijuana for medical purposes," Lyle told the committee. After the hearing, she told local news outlet WRAL.com that simply finding some herb for condition was difficult - something the medical marijuana bill would have addressed. "It was quite a problem," she added. "I didn't know anyone who smoked pot. I cannot tell you how quick and complete the relief I had from horrible nausea was."