By L.A. Williams
Christian Action League
July 22, 2021
A proposal to legalize marijuana for medicinal purposes moved a step closer to the Senate floor Wednesday, winning approval from the upper chamber’s Finance Committee after the group entertained a variety of opinions on how the state might best profit from the sale of the psychoactive drug.
“I think y’all are leaving a lot of money on the table here,” Pat Oglesby, with the Center for New Revenue, told lawmakers, urging them to consider instead a system like that in Louisiana.
“The state of Louisiana has a monopoly on medical marijuana growing. And it uses LSU and Southern University, which correspond to our NC State and A&T, and the state gets that money,” he said.
But Scott Lewis, who said he uses marijuana to alleviate symptoms from a brain tumor, said high fees levied on growers would make marijuana unaffordable for him and push him toward the black market.
Senate Bill 711, which already received a thumbs-up from the Judiciary I Committee, would allow 10 seed-to-sale suppliers to operate as many as four dispensaries each, where qualified patients – those with cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma, HIV, AIDS, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Crohn’s, Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis and other illnesses — or their caregivers could buy marijuana in a variety of forms.
Sen. Michael Lee (R-New Hanover), who is shepherding the bill along with Sen. Bill Rabon (R-Brunswick), told the committee that licensees would pay an initial $50,000 fee, plus $5,000 per outlet followed by annual renewal fees of $10,000 and $1,000, respectively. Their employees would be charged $250 each for their licensure cards and patients and caregivers would pay $50 card fees.
Each month, the state would also collect a fee from suppliers equal to 10 percent of their gross revenue from the sale of cannabis and cannabis-infused products. Beyond those numbers, Lee could not give estimates on how much revenue such a system might generate, nor how much it would cost to operate.
The Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League, said no amount of profit would offset the social cost of marijuana abuse.
“This bill, no matter how well intended, is but a precursor to recreational marijuana, where the social costs of marijuana use, like alcohol and tobacco, will far exceed any amount we receive in revenues,” he said, reminding the committee that smoked marijuana is not medicine.
“We must also consider the potential for a medical marijuana program to create a bigger black market and the comparatively fractional revenue received from such a program,” the Rev. Creech added. “Colorado makes the most money in the country on marijuana – and that is a tiny .89 percent of the state budget from recreational and medical sales combined. Yet states continue to see black-market sales vastly overtake legal sales. In Oregon, 70 percent of all marijuana sales are illegal statewide. Additionally, there were $2.2 billion in black-market sales in Illinois this year and $1.7 billion in black-market sales in Colorado.
Jere Royall, counsel for the North Carolina Family Policy Council, also testified against the bill, calling out a list of deleterious effects of marijuana as reported by the American Medical Association.
“The cost of all these is incalculable. The AMA brief goes on to say a massive amount of future research and controlled trials are needed to study the safety and efficacy of cannabis for medicinal purposes,” Royall said. “At this point in time, the research clearly shows that the cost to individuals, families and the state greatly outweigh any potential benefits.”
Having won approval in the Finance Committee, Senate Bill 711, labeled the Compassionate Care Act, will move on to the Healthcare and the Rules and Operations committees in the coming days.
Read Related Story, Some say NC medical marijuana proposal ‘leaving money on table’
URGENT ACTION ALERT:
Smoked marijuana is not medicine! There is anecdotal evidence that marijuana has helped some people suffering from debilitating diseases, but as the American Medical Association states, the scientific evidence on the therapeutic use of cannabis does not meet the current standards for a prescription drug product. Medical marijuana sets the foundation for the approval of legal recreational marijuana sales.
Here are five quick steps you can take to stop so-called legal marijuana sales from coming to North Carolina:
1. Please send your best gift to the Christian Action League to help us with this fight. CLICK HERE to make a secure online donation immediately.
To send your donation by mail, write:
Christian Action League of North Carolina, Inc.
6325 Falls of Neuse Rd.
Raleigh, NC 27615
2. If you don’t know who represents you in the N.C. Senate, CLICK HERE and follow the prompts. You will also find his/her contact information via the same link.
3. Send an email in your own words urging your state Senator to VOTE AGAINST SB 711 – N.C. Compassionate Care Act. (Be sure to tell him/her that you are one of their constituents.)
4. Follow-up your email with a phone call to your state Senator and reiterate what you said in your email. (Be sure to tell him/her that you are one of their constituents.)
5. Would you please pray earnestly for the defeat or failure of this legislation?