By Rose Samra
Christian Action League
July 10, 2020
According to the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), the largest organization in the country for marijuana legalization laws, “dozens of cannabis policy reform bills” were “introduced in state legislatures [this year] across the country, and several major reforms appeared poised for passage as early as March.” But then states paused or adjourned their legislative sessions early because of COVD 19.
MPP says that at least six states took action on marijuana initiatives. Those states included Virginia, Vermont, New York, Connecticut, Alabama, and Kentucky.
North Carolina’s neighbor, Virginia, passed a measure, which was signed into law by Governor Ralph Northam on May 21st. The new law makes possessing up to one ounce of cannabis punishable by a $25 fine with no threat of jail time and no criminal record.
Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League, says that the CAL has fought off legislation to legalize both medicinal and recreational marijuana for the last twelve years.
During the 2019-2020 Legislative Biennium, State Senators Paul Lowe (D-Forsyth), Valerie Foushee (D-Chatam) and Toby Fitch (D-Wilson) were primary sponsors to SB 58 – Revise Marijuana Laws.
SB 58 would have made it legal to possess up to four ounces of cannabis. It would have also allowed for convictions of three ounces or less to be expunged from one’s criminal record. The legislation was referred to the Senate Rules Committee in February of 2019 and was never taken-up for consideration.
“I know that our detractors would say otherwise, but it’s a good thing that marijuana legislation, though there is an intense push for it, isn’t moving in North Carolina,” said Rev. Creech. “There is too much at stake, and many people underestimate the seriousness of this drug. As legalization efforts move forward in other states, we’re learning more and more about the insidious health effects of cannabis.”
Dr. Creech’s sentiments echoed those of John Stonestreet of Breakpoint.org, a ministry of the Colson Center for a Christian Worldview. Stonestreet wrote an op-ed piece about marijuana legalization, which was posted this week by the Christian Post. Stonestreet is a resident of Colorado, where recreational marijuana is now legal.
In his article, Stonestreet argues that “America has been sold dangerous lies about marijuana – of financial windfalls with no accompanying social costs and of therapeutic benefits with no accompanying dangers. But marijuana is dangerous. In fact, for some, it’s potentially lethal.”
“Dr. Erik Messamore, a psychiatrist with a doctorate in psychopharmacology, recently brought attention to a study published by a branch of NIH [National Institutes of Health] about my state [Colorado], which is ground zero for the marijuana push in the United States. The title of the study telegraphs the punchline: “Legalized Cannabis in Colorado Emergency Departments: A Cautionary Review of Negative Health and Safety Effects.”
“This ‘cautionary review’ begins rather bluntly: ‘Cannabis legalization has led to significant health consequences, particularly to patients in emergency departments and hospitals in Colorado.’ The consequences that are, in their words, ‘most concerning’ are psychosis, suicide, and other substance abuse,’ not to mention the impairment of a user’s ‘complex decision making,’ which may be irreversible, even by subsequent abstinence.
“In Colorado, cannabis-related emergency and urgent-care visits among ‘teenagers and young adults’ increased nearly threefold after legalization. Most of these visits required ‘behavioral health evaluation.’
As late as this year, The National Institute on Drug Abuse declared:
“Several studies have linked marijuana use to increased risk for psychiatric disorders, including psychosis (schizophrenia), depression, anxiety, and substance use disorders, but whether and to what extent it actually causes these conditions is not always easy to determine. Recent research suggests that smoking high-potency marijuana every day could increase the chances of developing psychosis by nearly five times compared to people who have never used marijuana. The amount of drug used, the age at first used, and genetic vulnerability have all been shown to influence this relationship. The strongest evidence to date concerns links between marijuana use and psychiatric disorders in those with a preexisting genetic or other vulnerability.”
Stonestreet concludes that if we know all these facts already, to continue entertaining any push for legalization is “playing Russian Roulette with young lives.”
“Given all the talk of listening to scientists and experts about COVID 19, climate change, and all kinds of other subjects, why are we ignoring the clear data on this?” adds Stonestreet. “If there are links (and there are) between cannabis, psychosis, and suicide, especially with teenagers and young adults, there should be no more discussion. Wanting to get high is no excuse for allowing others to be hurt.”
Rev. Creech said he’s thankful that thus far, the Republican majority in the North Carolina General Assembly has blocked initiatives to legalize pot. He added the Christian Action League would continue vigorously fighting to protect the state from increasing pressures brought on by proponents or media outlets, which either misinform or under-inform policymakers and the public about the hazards of cannabis.