Time to legalize pot for illness?

RALEIGH Dozens of people came to a legislative committee meeting Thursday to talk about the issue.

"I'm standing here before you looking the way I do because of medical marijuana. It has restored my life," said Janet Osburn.

"When I started using it, I noticed my pain doesn't exist anymore. I can do anything I want to," said Perry Parks.

Guildford County representative Earl Jones has introduced a bill that would establish a registry of patients allowed to use medicinal marijuana and license growers for a fee.

"I think it's the responsible thing to do because people should not be arrested for trying to alleviate pain and suffering," he offered.

From glaucoma to cancer, medical marijuana is used to treat pain associated with a variety of illnesses.

"Once marijuana is legalized for medical purposes, it's just like any other drug prescribed by your physician," Jones explained.

Some lawmakers are concerned about addiction and possible abuse of the law, but for Osburn, the benefits far outweigh any potential problems.

"We know there's less of chance for addiction than caffeine," she said. "All I'm asking that you give us some dignity and the right to actually give ourselves some relief."

But the Rev. Mark Creech of the Christian Action League of North Carolina said legalizing marijuana would create unintended consequences and other prescription drugs can bring the same effects.

No vote was taken. Committee co-chairman Rep. Bob England said he didn't expect one this late in the session.

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