Pubdate: Mon, 02 Aug 2010
Source: Richmond County Daily Journal (NC)
Copyright: 2010 Richmond County Daily Journal
Author: Philip D. Brown


The Democratic Party State Executive Committee passed a resolution
supporting the legalization of medical marijuana at its convention
Sunday in Fayettevillle.

The vote came after a speech from Richmond County resident and party
official Perry Parks, and marks the second time Democratic leaders
from the local level have asked their elected representatives to pass
a bill legalizing marijuana for medical use.

The vote was nearly unanimous and, according to the party's Eighth
District Chair June Mabry, the mood of the room left no doubt what
party leaders expect of those they sent to Raleigh.

Parks said his speech focused on the state's large veteran population.
He is the party's Veterans Affairs Liaison for the Eighth District.

"Veterans are being arrested daily for using this natural medicine,"
Parks said Monday morning, describing his Sunday speeches. "We have
one of the largest populations of veterans in any state, which means
there are a lot of guys with IED injuries and it's now been
scientifically-proven medical marijuana helps to treat those injuries."

The resolution refers to a recent reversal of policy by the Veterans
Administration recognizing medical marijuana "as a legitimate
treatment for injuries and illnesses under the supervision of a doctor."

It also cites clinical trials from the University of California School
of Medicine confirming the effectiveness of marijuana in treating
traumatic brain injuries, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and
nerve-related pain; and a resolution unanimously passed by the U.S.
Conference of Mayors calling for the removal of barriers to medical
marijuana's use to treat PTSD and other war injuries.

North Carolina House Bill 1380, which stalled out in the House
Judiciary I Committee during the General Assembly's last term, was
originally in the language of the resolution before it was amended to
support the concept of medical marijuana rather than the specific
bill, Parks said.

The bill will now have to be reintroduced and begin working its way
through a first reading vote and committee hearings once again.

However, N.C. Democratic Party Executive Director Andrew Whalen
downplayed the scope of the resolution Monday, saying it applies only
to North Carolina veterans.

"It was specifically toward veterans who would be at risk of losing
some of their health benefits because they use marijuana," Whalen said.

An original version of the resolution includes a call for the party
"to take immediate steps to affect the passage of N.C. House Bill 1380
and to remove these barriers to treatment with medical marijuana for
veterans and other patients."

Parks said the reference to HB 1380 was removed in favor of a
reference to "an act."

An outspoken supporter of medical marijuana, Parks also holds a
veterans outreach position with the non-profit North Carolina Cannabis
Patients Network and testified before the House's Health and Human
Services Committee during its consideration of HB 1380.

Monday afternoon, Mabry referred to a similar resolution passed by the
same committee last year, and said the onus is now on legislators to
listen to the people and move a bill forward for a vote.

"The SEC has voted on it twice overwhelmingly, if not unanimously the
second time," Mabry said. "I'd also like to point out this is not a
partisan issue. A similar bill has been put forward in Virginia by a
Republican legislature and governor, and the same thing goes for New
Jersey ... This is an issue we at least need to open up for an honest

She said that while there may not be unanimous support among state
representatives, from the eighth district, support is there.

"Perry is a decorated, retired veteran with an honorable discharge as
a lieutenant colonel, and he was a fighter pilot," Mabry said. "He is
simply asking this body and legislature to do what other legislatures
have done in opening up this treatment option for veterans."

The state executive committee is made up of elected party officers
from each county in the state, and the resolutions it passes are
considered as directives for elected representatives of the party to
carry out in Raleigh.

A copy of the resolution will be mailed to each member of the North
Carolina House of Representatives, Senate, Council of State and the
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