GSO Cancer Patient Supports NC Medical Marijuana Bill

12:04 AM, Feb 12, 2013   |    comments
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Greensboro, NC -- Imagine being 21 years old, paralyzed from the waist down, and living with chronic pain. It's a reality for Chris Westmoreland.

"The tumor just keeps growing. And it presses against the spinal cord, which is a neurological pain, so regular pain killers, such as Oxycontin or even Ibuprofen, none of them work because it's a neurological pain, not a muscular pain," said Westmoreland.

Westmoreland was diagnosed with a rare, cancerous tumor three years ago. He was 18 years old at the time, and he couldn't finish college or continue to work.

Westmoreland can't have any more radiation -- he's maxed out.

He's tried six different chemotherapy drugs that didn't work and all types of pain killers, with side effects that actually made him prefer to deal with the pain.

His prognosis: He out-lived it three years ago.

"My belief is that, if modern medicine has failed you, and you're in a state that you're suffering, you have every right to do everything that is within yourself a better person and to make you feel better, as long as it doesn't affect anyone else," he said.

Westmoreland is now lobbying North Carolina lawmakers to pass legislation to legalize medicinal marijuana.

Last week, Guilford County State Representative Pricey Harrison co-sponsored the North Carolina Medical Cannabis Act. The bill would let doctors prescribe marijuana to patients with debilitating medical conditions, including cancer, arthritis and hypertension. It would establish an identification system that would be monitored by the Department of Health and Human Services.

The bill also outlines a distribution and supply system, which would be run by the NC Department of Agriculture.

And it would give patients, their caregivers, doctors, suppliers and distributors immunity from criminal prosecution.

Harrison said she has a personal reason to support this legislation. Her sister had a brain tumor and said synthetic marijuana eased her pain.

Westmoreland agrees that medical marijuana could be the only thing to help him.

He said, at this point, he knows he'll die. However, he doesn't want to spend more money on expensive medicine that might not work or spend every day laying in bed, suffering needlessly.

Westmoreland said if medical marijuana was legalized in North Carolina, it might give him a chance go back to school, back to work and have a decent quality of life.

"There's a whole bunch of things that medical marijuana could open up for me, if I know I'm not going to be crying at night because it hurts so much," he said.

WFMY News 2 reached out to republican lawmakers from the Triad to get their take on the bill.

Senator Stan Bingham said he thinks there would be lawmakers from both parties supporting and opposing this bill.

But he also thinks it would be "a tough go" because of opposition from the law enforcement community.

Harrison told us the bill was filed on Monday and passed the first reading. It was referred to committee.

WFMY News 2

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