Pubdate: Sat, 14 Jun 2014
Source: Morganton News Herald, The (NC)
Copyright: 2014 Media General Inc.
Author: Tyler Johnson


With 2014 being an election year for the North Carolina General 
Assembly many issues will be debated and decide races.

As the public becomes more aware of House Bill 1161 -- otherwise 
known as the North Carolina Medical Cannabis Act -- it will perhaps 
become one of the most debated topics during the election season.

The North Carolina Medical Cannabis Act, co-sponsored by Rep. Kelly 
Alexander (D-107), Carla Cunningham (D-106), Susi Hamilton (D-18), 
Pricey Harrison (D-57) and Annie Mobley (D-5), seeks to legalize the 
use of marijuana to for medicinal purposes for patients with 
debilitating medical conditions.

Those conditions are defined as cancer, glaucoma, HIV, AIDS, 
Hepatitis C, Alzheimer's, osteoporosis and several others.

Twenty-one states and the District of Columbia have already permitted 
the use of medical cannabis.

If enacted, the language of bill states, based on data gathered form 
those states, the law will generate $250 million per year in revenues 
for the state within four years.

The measure will have to pass through the General Assembly before it 
can be voted on by the citizens of North Carolina in the November elections.

Should it pass the law will become effective on Dec. 1 and the state 
will have 120 days to establish a medical cannabis supply system.

N.C. House of Representatives District 86 Democratic candidate Jim 
Cates said he has always had a tough position on drugs, however, when 
he sees the benefits of medical marijuana from tax revenue to helping 
others who need the medication it's hard to ignore.

"It will ease the pain for some people and I would not be opposed to 
the medical use of it at this point," Cates said. "I can see the 
benefits for medical use and I'm sure there are less problems than 
there is with alcohol, even though marijuana could lead to more things."

Cates said with the tax revenue numbers expected with passing the 
law, it would be hard for even fiscal conservatives to ignore the facts.

"They are getting pushed by everybody for raises and they're 
scrounging around like the dickens to find revenue to pay the 
people," Cates said. "Here is something starring them right in the 
face. And, if it's regulated, what's wrong with regulated revenue of 
any kind as long as you can control it?

"If a sick person needs it now, they have to buy it illegally. But, 
if you can make a few bucks, and someone needs it, why not do it? As 
long as it's made legal, I don't have a problem with it."

Cates described himself as a civil liberties man who defends the 
rights of others to make choices.

"Its' a civil liberty to purchase certain products and if you can't 
do it legally, they are going to do it illegally," Cates said. "So, 
why not make it legal and make some money off of it? If the state is 
looking for sources of income, here's their source. Other states are 
doing it successfully and filling their tax coffers.

"Maybe, they can even drop the state income tax later on down the road."

Despite his thoughts, Cates doesn't believe the measure will have 
much success pointing to the Republicans.

"I don't see it passing because of the right wing element of the 
Republicans," Cates said. "I think they have a problem justifying 
with their concept of whether they think the church would be involved 
with it or not. It's just a gut feeling. I hope there would be a few 
willing to cross the isle."

As for himself, Cates said, ultimately, he will go with what the county wants.

"I'm for whatever the folks of Burke County think I should be for," 
Cates said. "I'm not for what Jim Cates is for."
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom