Last year, The Assembly published an excellent and thoroughly reported piece on what’s driving Sen. Bill Rabon’s medical marijuana bill. With the Senate poised to vote on it today, we wanted to reshare some excerpts. Read the full piece here: Medical Marijuana’s Conservative Champion.
For Rabon, the 70-year-old face and force behind the current push to legalize medical marijuana in North Carolina, the experience that motivates him is cancer. More than 20 years ago, colon cancer almost took his life, and has since killed too many of those he knew and loved.
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If the proposal passes this session, which many observers think is likely, it will be almost entirely because of the ripples from a terminal diagnosis given to a veterinarian turned powerful senator—and a pledge he made to his physician after he beat the odds.
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“You’re sitting next to someone here, here, here, here, all around the room,” said Rabon, describing chemotherapy. “And you strike up conversations. Some of them just started, some are mid-term … and you see those people suffering, because you’re suffering.
“And you know, some of them aren’t gonna be there when you come back for your next treatment. And they know it too. But they’re trying. They’re doing their best.”
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Medical marijuana, argued Rabon, improves quality of life for folks in pain. “In my opinion, it will not keep you on earth a day longer, but every day you’re here is a better day.”
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When he first ran for office in 2010, he recalls, he told his physician and close friend that he had three goals: “I want to stop Menhaden fishing from killing all the pogies, because they clean up the water. I want to pass Sunday hunting. And I want to legalize medical marijuana…I told that class—most of them probably don’t remember—11 years ago that I plan to do this at some point,” said Rabon. “I knew 11 years ago wasn’t the time—when you’re a freshman you come up with some idea that’s basically a game-changer for the state, you can’t expect to accomplish that.”