If you’re in North Carolina, make sure you don’t bother your lawmakers about passing any, you know, laws and stuff.
In an interesting twist on representative democracy, the Republican-controlled North Carolina House Rules Committee killed a medical marijuana legalization bill this week after lawmakers complained they were being “bothered” by backers of the measure who were requesting their support.
The lawmakers allowed only 20 minutes of public debate on the legislation before deciding to give it an “unfavorable report,” writes Mark Binker at WRAL. That, in itself, is an unusual measure, because bills that won’t pass normally just sit in a committee unheard.
The infrequently used procedure effectively prevents any further medical marijuana bills from being considered by the North Carolina Genera Assembly this session, reports The Huffington Post.
Catherine Lyles, a 51-year-old brain cancer survivor, was one of the few allowed to testify before the committee in the brief, 20-minute hearing. She told them cannabis had allowed her to regain her appetite after treatment.
“Today, my purpose is to convince all of you to legalize marijuana for medical purposes,” she told the committee. Lyles said she’d been treated for brain cancer 17 years ago and was told at that time she’d only live for five years.
Lyles said after the committee hearing that marijuana had helped her recover by getting rid of nausea that had made it impossible for her to eat. She said she began investigating medicinal cannabis at the suggestion of medical professionals, who said there was no drug they could legally prescribe which would work as well.“It was quite a problem,” Lyles said. “I didn’t know anyone who smoked pot.” She said her mother and best friend helped her track down some marijuana through a network of old friends.
“I cannot tell y ou how quick and complete the relief I had from horrible nausea was,” she said.
Rep. Kelly Alexander (D-Mecklenburg), one of the bill’s sponsors, was the only lawmaker who spoke at length about the measure. He pointed to fiscal studies which showed North Carolina could reap $39 million per year if medical marijuana were legal.
Despite the fact that medical marijuana advocates heavily outnumbered the single opponent (Jere Royall with something called the “North Carolina Family Policy Council”) who showed up at the hearing, the lawmakers were unmoved by the showing of support.
In fact, the haughty lawmakers seemed quite eager to demonstrate their contempt for the patients and their supporters by cutting the hearing off after just 20 minutes and giving it the “unfavorable report,” thus ensuring that neither this bill nor any other medical marijuana law would pass the Legislature this session.