Virginia RNC delegate shares advocacy for marijuana

Published: Aug. 26, 2020 at 11:30 AM EDT

WASHINGTON (Gray DC) -- As millions tune in for the Republican National Convention, one of those watching will be a Shenandoah Valley man who was chosen to represent Virginia at the convention.

“The pain shoots down my legs and sometimes for days, I can just lay down on the couch and just cry,” said Dean Peterson, RNC Virginia delegate.

Years ago, a tragic work accident broke Peterson’s right hip, leaving him with a permanent disability and paralyzing pain. That is, until he says he tried marijuana.

“All of a sudden I could walk, without so much pain, in my leg. It was like a blessing from God,” said Peterson.

In 2016, Peterson pounded the pavement in Page County to help Republicans win. That’s because then-candidate Donald Trump announced he supported medical cannabis and would largely let states set their own marijuana policies if elected president.

“It really meant a lot to me, enough for me, to get involved back again with the Republican Party,” said Peterson.

Gray DC Correspondent Alana Austin asked the RNC Chair, Ronna McDaniel, where the party stands today on this heated issue.

Alana: “Is there a place in the GOP for folks who support medical marijuana?”

McDaniel: “I don’t really address policy issues like marijuana, that’s left up to the states.”

You can watch more of the RNC chair’s comments on this issue, and about the party platform, in the video below:

Kevin Sabet, a former White House drug policy adviser, says the science is still not settled on medical marijuana and he’s concerned corporations may put profits over public health.

“The people driving the bus on the marijuana push are really corporate entities like big tobacco. These folks see money, money, money,” said Sabet, Smart Approaches to Marijuana president & CEO.

Sabet says while there may be medicinal benefits for some with marijuana, he believes there can be risks. He recommends all potential treatments undergo thorough vetting.

“I personally think that all medications should go through the scientific process. I believe in science. I believe in the Food and Drug Administration to usually get it right,” said Sabet.

While US public opinion is rising in favor of relaxing marijuana laws, the drug is still illegal under federal law.

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