Speaking to USA Today, Chayse Roth has said he notices the North Carolina highway welcome signs declare: “Nation’s Most Military Friendly State.”
“That’s a powerful thing to claim,” said Roth, who is a former Marine Corps gunnery sergeant.
Roth is now one veteran who is advocating for lawmakers to pass a bill that would legalize medical marijuana in the state and allow veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder and other debilitating conditions to use it for treatment.
“I’ve lost more men to suicide since we went to Afghanistan in ’01 than I have in combat,” said Roth. “It’s just unacceptable for these guys to go overseas and win the battle and come home and lose the battle to themselves.”
Roth doesn’t use the drug himself, but wants others to have the option. He is among several veterans brought together by a recently formed advocacy group called NC Families for Medical Cannabis.
The veterans have testified before the legislature and visited lawmakers individually.
“If we really want to be the most veteran-friendly state in the union, this is just another thing we can do to solidify that statement,” Roth said.
“The group carrying the message here makes a huge difference,” said Julius Hobson Jr., a former lobbyist for the American Medical Association. “When you’ve got veterans coming in advocating for that, and they’re considered to be a more conservative bunch of folks, that has more impact.”
Garrett Perdue, the son of former North Carolina Gov. Beverly Perdue and a spokesperson for NC Families for Medical Cannabis and CEO of Root Bioscience has said, “It fits right in with the general assembly’s historical support of those communities. For [lawmakers] to hear stories of those people that are trusted to protect us and enforce the right of law” and see them as advocates for this policy “is pretty compelling.”