“We just want another option:” Local veterans react as medical marijuana bill moves through NC General Assembly

CASTLE HAYNE, N.C. (WECT) – North Carolina’s state senators voted this week to legalize medical marijuana. Senate Bill 3, also known as the Compassionate Care Act, will now go to the house, where a similar bill failed to get a vote last year.

Veterans in southeastern North Carolina, including Marine Corps Veteran Rob Rens, are optimistic about the impact medical marijuana could have on those suffering from cancer, PSTD, and other illnesses.

“The only thing we’ve asked for in all of this is, you know, allow an alternative to what the VA provides, which is anti-psychotics, antidepressants, sleep medications, uppers and downers, just a combat cocktail of pharmaceuticals,” said Rens. “We just want another option.”

Rens says he does not use marijuana now but adds that his own military experience is an example of the trauma others need help to cope with.

“Our job was to collect the remains of anybody who was killed in action,” said Rens. “We’d inventory their effects and then we would, you know, process them and get them home for a military burial service. And that’s a hard job for anyone to do, let alone you know, 18 to 23-year-old kids.”

He hopes legalizing medical marijuana could be a path to recovery for some veterans.

“The other alternative too is that a lot of people self-medicate with alcohol, and we know where that goes, especially for the veteran population. There’s no good outcomes that come from that,” said Rens.

Those opposed to the bill have expressed concerns about how the state would regulate marijuana distribution. Rens says the benefits outweigh those concerns.

“There’s a lot of more subtle things that veterans deal with, like insomnia. I have a real hard time sleeping. Medical grade cannabis really helps in delivering sleep,” he said.

If the bill is eventually signed into law, the state could see as many as 80 medical cannabis centers for people who receive a prescription from a doctor.

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