By L.A. Williams
Christian Action League
June 2, 2023
Promoters of Senate Bill 3 have named it the Compassionate Care Act, but is legalizing so-called “medical” marijuana the best way to care for North Carolinians?
Members of the House Health Subcommittee heard personal testimony from both sides of the issue Tuesday during a half-hour hearing on the measure that would legalize pot for people with a range of debilitating or terminal illnesses and authorize 10 seed-to-sale suppliers across the state to pay licensing fees ($50,000 initially and $10,000 a year) among other costs for the privilege of selling the psychoactive drug.
“This is not a farming operation like growing tobacco or corn or soybeans. It’s a very tightly regulated, controlled environment and basically greenhouse environment,” Sen. Bill Rabon (R-Brunswick) told the committee, emphasizing the guardrails on the bill, which he said is designed to allow “tightly regulated use of medical cannabis.”
In addition to explaining the bill’s provisions and fielding questions from fellow lawmakers, Rabon gave a personal endorsement of marijuana, which he said helped him survive strong chemotherapy taken to treat stage-three colon cancer when he was 48 years old. He said he had never smoked prior to the drug being recommended by his doctor but that after a few puffs from a joint, he would find relief from the severe nausea caused by chemotherapy.
Speaking during the public comment portion of the meeting, David Evans, with North Carolinians Against Legalizing Marijuana, said he is a three-time cancer survivor and could sympathize with anyone suffering from a serious illness. Nonetheless, he warned of the negative effects the bill would have on North Carolina and challenged lawmakers to stay in their lane.
“Every sponsor of every medical marijuana bill says the same thing: ‘This is a really tough bill and it will not lead to legalization and it will not lead to abuses.’ In every single instance, they have been absolutely 100 percent wrong,” Evans said.
As for Rabon’s personal account of pot use, Evans reminded lawmakers that “We do not decide medicine in the United States by anecdote or by stories. We decide it based on science.”
“I’m going to ask you to exercise some humility. You are not the FDA. You are not qualified to be making this decision based on anecdotal stories because every decision that you make is going to affect thousands of people with serious illnesses,” Evans added.
Corrine Gasper told the committee that she lost her daughter, Jennifer, to a medical marijuana user who got behind the wheel while under the influence.
“He hit my daughter’s car so hard her car was strewn across the road and through the front of a building and the facade of that building fell on top of her car, killing her at the scene,” Gasper said. “This man removed himself from his vehicle and had no idea what he just did. His car reeked of marijuana. He had a medical marijuana card and he admitted smoking just before the crash. So this is just an example of the unintended consequences that you will suffer from marijuana in your state. The marijuana you find in these pot shops has no proven medical benefits.”
The Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League, reiterated that truth in an email to lawmakers, reminding them that there is no consensus among the major medical organizations that smoked marijuana is a medicine.
“Among the many organizations that have taken a stance against the use of smoked marijuana as medicine include the American Medical Association (AMA), the American Cancer Society, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, the National Institute on Drug Abuse, and the Christian Medical and Dental Association. Moreover, the FDA has never approved smoked marijuana for any ailment,” he wrote. “Marijuana smoke contains toxins and carcinogens that harm the lungs and can lead to respiratory illnesses.”
He cited a study showing that states with medical marijuana laws have higher rates of adolescent marijuana use and outlined roughly a half dozen other adverse outcomes of treating the drug like medication, including the propensity for patients to become addicted.
Sadly, he said, Gasper’s tragic story is not surprising, considering reports from the University of Michigan, which examined fallout from medical marijuana there. A 2019 University of Michigan Addiction Center study found 56 percent of medical marijuana users reported driving within two hours of using the substance. About half of users said they drove while a “little high,” and 21 percent reported driving while “very high.”
Creech’s email pointed out that the concentration of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in marijuana products has increased significantly over the years, making the drug more potent than ever before. He said medical marijuana use has been linked to an increased risk of developing mental health disorders and that, just like on the highway, the use of medical marijuana can negatively affect safety in the workplace.
“The Christian Action League suggests SB 3, no matter how well-intended, essentially makes an end-run around the medical community,” Creech wrote. “You don’t get medicine at a dispensary but at a pharmacy.”
“We ask you to stop this effort to define medicine by legislative fiat,” he concluded. “Lawmakers should stay in their lane, allowing the medical community to conclusively determine the possible benefits or risks of marijuana use as a treatment. Otherwise, this is not about medicine but about marijuana legalization.”
No vote was taken in Tuesday’s committee meeting.
Please Join the Christian Action League in Opposing the Legalization of Marijuana in North Carolina
Go to the link below to help us identify who represents you in the NC House of Representatives. You will see your Representative’s phone number. Please call your Representative and urge him or her to OPPOSE the legalization of marijuana in North Carolina for “medical” or any other purpose. Thank You! This matter is of the utmost urgency.
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