Pubdate: Wed, 22 Dec 2010
Source: Richmond County Daily Journal (NC)
Copyright: 2010 Richmond County Daily Journal
Author: Philip D. Brown


Rockingham resident Perry Parks is continuing his mission to make
medical marijuana a reality in North Carolina as the president of the
state's foremost advocacy group for the issue.

Parks is hoping to use his experience as a decorated Vietnam veteran
and retired corporate safety director to further the issue through his
service with the North Carolina Cannabis Patents Network, which now
boasts more than 1,000 members. He previously served as the
organization's veterans outreach coordinator.

He said he is compelled to advocate for medical marijuana by the sheer
number of people who have an interest in using it as an alternative to
pharmaceutical drugs, which tend to have more dangerous side effects.

"The number of people who come to me in private and almost beg me to
continue this fight is amazing," Parks said. "My whole goal is to make
this medicine available to soldiers, especially those who suffer from
traumatic brain injuries due to IED attacks, and to people with
cancer, given its great potential for curing cancer in numerous
scientific studies."

One Richmond County woman's story particularly resonates with him,
spurning him on with the fight. She came to him and told him her
brother was diagnosed with cancer and used marijuana to treat his
nausea during chemotherapy, until he was arrested for possessing it.

She said he then stopped taking the medication, and eventually
succumbed to the cancer.

"They always say, 'Please don't mention my name,' but the stories are
numerous throughout this community and throughout the state," Parks

He said modern proponents of medical marijuana are constantly fighting
the antiquated "Reefer Madness" view of marijuana as a dangerous drug,
but science has shown it is actually much safer than many substances
that are accepted in mainstream culture.

"I don't want you to take my word for it - look at the science," Parks
explained. "Read these reports from legitimate news sources and look
at the scientific evidence, then either try to refute those findings
or accept them as fact."

Among the evidence Parks points to in support of medical marijuana are
a recent cover article on the medical cannabis industry, the recent
release of 10 years of clinical trials for medical marijuana conducted
by the University of California's School of Medicine and many more
pieces of evidence marijuana has been falsely demonized by authorities
over the years.

Medical marijuana has seen some progress in the state over the past
couple of years.

Parks testified before the North Carolina House of Representatives
Health Committee on the benefits of it in support of a bill introduced
two years ago in the General Assembly. That bill eventually made it
out of the health committee, but stalled before reaching the floor for
a vote.

He said NCCPN is currently in contact with multiple legislators, and
expects to have as many as seven co-sponsors when the bill is
re-introduced this year.

The organization is also fighting to keep Michelle Leonhart from
assuming the mantle of U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration
administrator, because of a track record of ignoring scientific
evidence related to medical marijuana. She has been acting in that
capacity since 2007, but is yet to be confirmed by Congress.

The ultimate goal would be to have marijuana re-scheduled by the
federal government from a Class I narcotic, which means it has no
medicinal value whatsoever. Even opiate-based pain medications aren't
scheduled this harshly.

In the federal Veteran's Administration, Parks said there is already a
move to look at medical marijuana from an objective point-of-view, and
the agency recently reversed a policy of cutting off pain medication
for those who test positive for marijuana.

"(The Obama Administration), unlike the last administration, promised
its policy would be guided by science and not by pre-conceived
notions," Parks said. "We need to hold them to their word."

Parks cautions that he is not fighting to make marijuana readily
available to young adults, but to those who are suffering and would
use it as a medication.

"It is absolutely wrong to use any powerful medication while your
brain is still forming, unless advised to do so by a doctor," he said.

For more information, visit the North Carolina Cannabis Patient's
Network Web site at, or Park's personal Web site at
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