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Veterans testify in favor of legalizing medical marijuana

Published: Jun. 24, 2021 at 4:32 PM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - Former United States Marines Rob Rens and Chayse Roth traveled from Wilmington to Raleigh Wednesday to testify in front of state lawmakers, speaking in support of the legalization of medical marijuana.

The two veterans say they have witnessed how the drug can help treat symptoms brought on by chemotherapy and help ease pain caused by traumatic brain injuries and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

“The changes that they’ve undergone have been nothing short of miraculous, honestly,” said Roth. “It’s a medication that should be available for people who need it.”

Senate Bill 711, also known as the North Carolina Compassionate Care Act, currently sits in the judiciary committee of the North Carolina Senate. If signed into law, North Carolina would become the 37th state to legalize medical cannabis.

Roth and Rens say they want to speak on behalf of veterans who have benefited from using medical cannabis and may be afraid to speak out because the drug is illegal in the state. The two vets say they do not use medical marijuana.

“My goal is to just provide a voice to the voiceless in all of this and people who would otherwise be scared,” said Rens. “One: maybe from reputational damage, and, two: from criminal prosecution. These people risk a lot and you can understand why.”

One of the reasons Roth and Rens are so passionate about making the drug legal for medical use is because they believe it can help to save lives and decrease the number of veterans who commit suicide.

“If this bill saves one veteran life in North Carolina then it’s worth passing,” said Roth. “They deserve better than to lose the battle to themselves when they come home after they’ve won our battles overseas.”

If eventually signed into law, the state could give out up to 10 supplier licenses, and each of those suppliers would be allowed to operate up to four medical cannabis centers, which could mean as many as 40 would be spaced around the state.

Both Roth and Rens are now business owners in Wilmington, and say they hope legislation is passed soon so more veterans can have access to medical marijuana.

“We’ve got to do better, we can, and this is one of the things we can do. This is an actionable thing that can move that needle a little bit in our state,” said Roth.

Roth says he is happy to make the trip to Raleigh to speak on behalf of his fellow veterans. He hopes the bill will move quickly through the senate and house before reaching the governor’s desk.

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