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Former Vietnam helicopter pilot pushes legalized medical marijuana

Simple drug possession of marijuana in North Carolina, regardless of what purposes the drug is being put to use, is still a crime punishable by fines and possible jail time. And the consequences of marijuana possession will increase in severity with each subsequent arrest and conviction.

One Vietnam veteran, a former helicopter pilot named Perry Parks, is trying to change that. As reported by the Charlotte Observer, Parks calls it "the hit heard around the world," referring to a well-known photograph of Parks smoking a bong, which is part of his effort to legalize marijuana in the North Carolina legislature.

So far, Parks has nearly convinced the state legislature - once or twice - to legalize marijuana for medical drug use, but has not yet been successful.

Parks says, "I have veterans that call me every day who are being arrested or kicked out of VA clinics because we don't have a state law," as reported by the Charlotte Observer.

Parks uses marijuana because he has degenerative disc disorder and arthritis. For many diseases, such as cancer and HIV/AIDS, marijuana is known to have significant pain-relieving properties.

Parks was working with a North Carolina legislature that had the Democrats in control. Now, he has to work with the Republicans, and is far less likely at the moment to win support for legal medical marijuana, but he is advocating his position anyway.

Parks says, "This stuff totally removed my pain." Now he wants to see medical marijuana in North Carolina being used by people like him, without fear of repercussions under the law.

Source: Charlotte Observer, "War hero's battle: Legalizing the medical use of marijuana," Rob Christensen, 5/2/11

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