Richard Belzer, Law & Order SVU star, on why he sees medical marijuana is "a moral issue"

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Richard Belzer.
Richard Belzer, a TV mainstay thanks to the Law & Order franchise (he's currently a regular on Special Victims Unit), got his start as a standup comic.

But don't expect lotsa chuckles at the debate he'll moderate at this weekend's Plant Medicine Expo & Healthcare Provider Conference. Because he's very serious about the subject of medical marijuana.

Belzer learned about the medical efficacy of marijuana back in 1984, when he was diagnosed with testicular cancer.

"When I had cancer and was radiated, my doctor recommended marijuana," he says. "He couldn't prescribe it -- this was 25 years ago. But it just makes so much sense. The science is there, and many doctors are on board -- and because I'm a celebrity, hopefully it will call more attention to it, particularly in the medical community.

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Richard Belzer and Mariska Hargitay on "Law & Order Special Victims Unit."
"People need to get educated, whether they're suffering or if they know someone is suffering. To me, it's all about relieving suffering and nausea. The thing that disturbs me most is the idea of people getting high -- because if you're radiated or in pain or starving, it's not about getting high. It's about restoring balance to your body and replenishing yourself. For God's sake, it's a plant. It's been around for thousands of years and been used in many forms. And I think this demonization of it has got to end."

He's hopeful for progress in this area in part because "they just keep adding to the list of conditions that can be helped or treated by marijuana." But that's not the case in Colorado. When told that the state health department recently rejected a petition to add Tourette Syndrome to the roster of ailments approved for MMJ treatment following a hearing, and also nixed approval of medical marijuana for post-traumatic-stress disorder patients without even holding such an assembly, he reacts with dismay.

"That's beyond common sense," he maintains. "It's heartbreaking that anyone would deny someone the use of such a harmless substance."

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