Veterans frustrated as House speaker says medical marijuana legalization unlikely to pass this year

The bill passed the Senate with bipartisan support in March, but has not made much progress in the House.
Published: Jul. 12, 2023 at 5:54 PM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - Efforts to legalize medical marijuana in North Carolina will likely be on hold until at least next year. State House Speaker Tim Moore says a bill that would legalize the drug to treat illnesses like cancer and PTSD does not have enough support from Republicans in his chamber.

The bill passed the Senate with bipartisan support in March, but has not made much progress in the House. A similar bill also passed the Senate last year, but did not make it out of the House.

Moore’s comments do not sit well with people like U.S. Army Veteran David Hamill, who says marijuana has helped him deal with stress and anxiety.

“The ability to get up and go and do and not be in pain,” said Hamill. “Not have, you know, the depression and anxiety being controlled and yet [be able to] function.”

Hamill says he is frustrated that the bill will not pass this year and calls on lawmakers to act.

Republican Senator Bill Rabon, who represents Brunswick, Columbus, and New Hanover counties, sponsors the bill and told a House committee in May that marijuana helped him through his cancer treatment.

“No science behind it, but I can tell you. I know,” said Rabon. “I know that there’s tens of thousands of people in the state that could benefit just as I did.”

The bill would allow doctors to prescribe the drug as a treatment for cancer, PTSD, Parkinson’s disease, and other conditions. Hamill says the state’s current law does not do enough to help veterans like himself.

“The medications that I was on, if I took the right medication or the right combination, I couldn’t work the next day,” he said. “So, I had to find ways to either suffer and get through it or find a way to relieve it that was some other way.”

Hamill says that “other way” was marijuana.

“The CBD and the other little THC products, they might make a small dent,” said Hamill. “But the first time I ever tried the illegal form of cannabis through another friend of mine, it was almost life-changing.”

Rabon recently added an amendment to a different health care bill that passed the house unanimously earlier this year, saying that bill cannot become law unless medical marijuana is also legalized. Rabon was not available for an interview Wednesday.