By L.A. Williams
Christian Action League
July 13, 2023
Efforts to legalize marijuana for medicinal purposes may be up in smoke for this session of the N.C. Legislature, according to a statement issued by House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) on Tuesday. Although the upper chamber passed Senate Bill 3, euphemistically dubbed the Compassionate Care Act, in February, the bill languished in the House, where it failed to win over a majority of Republicans. Moore said the House Republican Caucus has a rule requiring more than half of its members to support a bill before it can be brought to the House floor regardless of whether it could easily pass with Democratic support. He doesn’t see that happening in this case.
The Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League, commended the GOP members who held strong against unrelenting pressure to approve the measure and said they represent what is best about being a good lawmaker.
“We must admit, according to many polls, public support for marijuana legalization is relatively high,” Creech said. “However, lawmakers in North Carolina who stand in opposition are demonstrating that while majority opinion or popular demand holds value, effective leadership requires considering the long-term consequences, potential pitfalls, and weighing a variety of factors beyond just public opinion.”
He said good governance involves making informed decisions that prioritize the overarching well-being of society, rather than simply satisfying transient desires.
“It cannot be said enough – smoked marijuana is not medicine. Although the anecdotal evidence of its effectiveness for various catastrophic ailments is seemingly limitless, the scientific evidence is paltry at best,” he added. “Moreover, researchers and physicians who published their concerns about smoked marijuana in various medical journals have cautioned again and again that medications – genuine treatments that are safe and efficacious – are not and cannot be subject to a vote, whether that of a lawmaker or via the ballot box. Medicine is not determined by popular demand.”
Some of the anecdotal evidence presented to lawmakers this session included testimony from one of their own. Sen. Bill Rabon (R-Brunswick) credits the psychoactive drug with helping him to survive the nausea associated with chemotherapy treatments during his 1999 battle with colon cancer. Rabon is so passionate about the issue, he recently attached an amendment to an unrelated House bill to make its passage contingent on the House approving SB3. Even that parliamentary tactic didn’t move the bill forward.
Creech said what many folks who tout marijuana as a help for nausea during cancer treatment may not know is that use of the drug has been linked to some types of cancer. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, smoked marijuana delivers not only THC and other cannabinoids to the body, but it also delivers many of the same toxins and carcinogens found in tobacco smoke, which are harmful to the lungs and cardiovascular system. Equally concerning, research reported in Sage Journals shows that “marijuana use may still be linked to an increased risk of addiction, mental health disorders, certain types of cancer, impaired learning, and lower lifetime achievement.”
Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) celebrated the fact that lawmakers have not approved SB3.
“Marijuana isn’t medicine. It’s not approved to treat any illness. So-called medical marijuana is the industry’s way of getting a foothold in a state that they can then use to create an open THC drug market,” Luke Niforatos, executive vice president of the organization, told the media. He pointed to Altria, the largest tobacco company in the U.S. and a huge investor in the marijuana industry.
“They’re the ones that are leading the charge to legalize marijuana in many states,” Niforatos said. He called medical marijuana “a ploy by an addiction industry to get legal and get more people hooked on their drugs.”
Despite the success opponents have had in stopping Senate Bill 3 this session, Creech is well aware that the legislation will likely pop up again in the next session of the Legislature. He adds opponents of so-called medical marijuana must also be vigilant on this issue until the end of session.
“Although it appears from what the House leadership is saying the danger has passed for now. It has been my experience as a lobbyist that things can turn on a dime. It’s never over until the last note of the opera is sung. At the present, the opera troupe is still in performance, and we can afford to take nothing for granted,” said Creech. “There are not many public policy success stories of turning the tide backward once some ill has been destigmatized, normalized. There is no better way to make marijuana, which is a harmful drug, more appealing and worthy of legalization than the ruse which advocates it as medicine.”