GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — Medical marijuana is legal in 36 states. Now, the General Assembly could make North Carolina the latest state to open up the market to cannabis.

Medical cannabis advocates are trying to throw veterans a lifeline with Senate Bill 711.

“The veteran suicide rate is twice the national average in North Carolina, so clearly whatever it is that we’re doing isn’t exactly working,” said Rob Rens.

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Rens is a Marine Corp veteran and an advocate for people transitioning into civilian life.

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“You come home and you get prescribed uppers, downers and opiates,” said Rens.

Rens believes Senate Bill 711, or the Compassionate Care Act, could be a game-changer. The bill would legalize medical cannabis and create a framework for regulation and distribution.

Callie Vance owns Your CBD Store and says her customers are on board.

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“Especially in the wake of the opioid crisis, not only in the US, but right here in Eastern North Carolina,” said Vance. “We need a more natural alternative to people suffering from pain or other ailments.”

Vance and Rens have seen people around them grow addicted to the drugs prescribed to them to help them cope with traumatic injuries. They’ve also seen how medical marijuana can improve people’s quality of life.

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NC State Sen. Don Davis is listening closely to what people have to say. He hasn’t made up his mind just yet and said he would like to see a little more medical research.

“I really believe at the core, we’re trying to sort out is this truly of medical value for North Carolinians, and that’s the question that’s out for all of us right now,” said Davis.

Rens said for the people he knows, medical cannabis can’t come soon enough.

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“It’s called the Compassionate Care Act for a reason,” said Rens. I believe that it’s in the spirit of compassion and helping people find an alternative that they don’t currently have in the state of North Carolina.”

SB 711 already passed the judiciary committee. It still has to go through the NC Senate Finance and NC Rules Committee. After that, it will go to a full vote in front of the NC Senate.