The House Health Committee met Thursday in Raleigh to discuss the issue of whether to legalize medical marijuana. Some medical professionals say marijuana has its benefits, but others aren't so sure. Jane Albers is well aware of the effects marijuana has on the mind and body. She works as a substance abuse counselor. In her opinion, alcohol and tobacco products are much more dangerous than marijuana. "There are more deaths from alcohol than all the other substances,” she said. Albers says marijuana should be legal for those who need it. David Warren started growing marijuana, and smoking it, in 2005 to help treat symptoms of hepatitis C. That same year, he was arrested. "It's time we come out of the dark ages and look at marijuana as it is… a medicine, and not a hard core drug,” Warren said. Jane Albers said, "Maybe, if there was a small step made toward legalizing marijuana for medicinal purposes, we would see a decrease in some of the criminal activity.” But one area undercover detective says legalizing marijuana is a bad idea. "If they start prescribing marijuana, obviously the kids are going to have access to it, just like they do prescription medication, and it will be more readily available, and you'll have problems." "There is a fear that about little kids, being able to easily smoke marijuana if it were legalize, but i think that's just fear,” Albers said. If passed, House bill 1380 would protect seriously ill patients from getting arrested and going to jail for smoking marijuana, if it's recommended by their doctor. The law would tax those who grow marijuana, but even if it's legal in North Carolina, it still breaks federal law. Until the national Drug Enforcement Agency gives it their approval, anyone who chooses to use marijuana as medicine is still running the risk of federal prosecution. The proposal considered Thursday would exempt from prosecution, patients who possess a small amount of marijuana or grow it for themselves. No vote was made today, and committee members say they don't expect a vote this late in session.
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