Republicans may be throwing a monkey-wrench into the works to slow the legalization of medical marijuana, say some supporters of the movement.
After taking part on the War on Drugs panel at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill last Monday, North Carolina Cannabis Patients Network President Perry Parks of Rockingham said he is eager to see a resolution passed, which would eliminate bureaucratic maneuvering, pass and enact a bill “to legalize medical marijuana and to remove these barriers to treatment with medical marijuana for veterans and other patients whose doctors determine the treatment to be appropriate.”
Parks said the panel had so many people in attendance, some had to stand. Questions lasted beyond the allotted time, and Parks said he saw Duke and UNC Chapel Hill students taking notes furiously. Parks is also an elected member of the State Resolutions and Platform Committee.
At several recent meetings, including one in Greensboro on Jan. 28, 2012, Parks has asked David Parker, chair of the North Carolina Democratic Party, why the resolution had not been distributed to each member of the North Carolina House of Representatives, the North Carolina Senate, the Council of State and the Governor; as was resolved.
Although Parker was unavailable for comment, June Mabry, chair of the 8th Congressional District for the North Carolina Democratic Party, explained that with lawmakers on the campaign trail, there was no legislature in session to receive the resolution.
“Where we are now is that we know this is an important issue,” said Mabry, who lives in Albemarle. “Like Perry, we would have liked for it to happen yesterday. I understand why this needs to happen. It’s been churning the waters since the ’50s. I personally carry the resolution and take it to legislators and to Washington.”
“The problem is that it’s on the radar, but we can’t get the legislature to listen so we need to get them out so we have a shot at getting real stuff done. This resolution has gone before the legislature but the current leadership doesn’t allow any Democrats to bring anything to the floor. There are more fights like this on the table but the leadership only listens to themselves.”
“I’m not saying ‘do it,’” said Parks about reviewing the resolution. “I’m saying, ‘when?’ It is important because the public is screaming for cooperation between Republicans and Democrats.”
“This is a live resolution,” said Mabry. “It’s never not been live. It’s just being blocked. They are telling people one thing and doing another. They say either nothing happens or to hand it to a Republican for re-working.”
At the panel, Parks met with Kevin Baiko, a medical doctor from Hawaii now serving northeastern North Carolina through Carolina Compassionate Care. Baiko joined the North Carolina Cannabis Patients Network and is a long-time advocate, according to Parks.
Parks has been a medical marijuana advocate for many years because he thinks cannabis can be beneficial to veterans. Parks is a veteran of Vietnam, where he flew helicopters. According to him, it has been the most helpful medication he has found for treating his physical pain from Degenerative Disc Disease, for which he was treated for two years at the Duke Pain Clinic.
“This has been incredible to me,” said Parks. “I no longer am restricted in my physical activities and most importantly, I sleep without the aid of sleeping pills I had taken after being diagnosed with Post-traumatic Stress Disorder. When I learned that veterans were being asked to leave the clinic and not return until they can provide a clean urine sample for using Cannabis, I was outraged. This in the face of the fact that the VA has issued a directive protecting them in states where it is permitted; now 16 and D.C.”
According to the New Policy Directive for VA Hospitals and Clinics, which expires July 31, 2015, “Medical conditions associated with the use of medical marijuana include, but are not limited to: glaucoma, chemotherapy induced nausea, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy and chronic pain.”
Parks revealed that the National Cancer Institute released a study on Dec. 14, 2011, that said, “Cannabinoids may cause anti-tumor effects by various mechanism, including induction of cell death, inhibition of cell growth and inhibition of tumor angiogenesis and metastasis. Cannabinoids appear to kill tumor cells but do not affect their nontransmored counterparts and may even protect them from cell death.”
“If a soldier is injured by an IED (Improvised Explosive Device) and suffers a traumatic brain injury, his treatment will be determined by the state in which he lives. In Rhode Island, he would be permitted to use Cannabis; in North Carolina, he is subject to arrest if he uses Cannabis,” said Parks. “If a doctor diagnoses a patient with breast cancer, is it morally right to not be able to prescribe a medicine that has been shown to reduce breast cancer tumors while at the same time protecting normal cells?”
If you would like to learn more about this cause, visit http://www.nccpn.org.
— Staff Writer Dawn M. Kurry can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 15, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.