By Peyton Majors
Christian Action League
February 24, 2023
A bill that would legalize medicinal marijuana in North Carolina passed three Senate committees this week, even as speakers warned that its legalization is opposed by major medical and scientific organizations and would have a detrimental impact on the state.
“There’s plenty of anecdotal evidence, but the claims have not stood the test of scientific scrutiny,” Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League, told a Senate committee on Tuesday.
Senate Bill 3, dubbed the “Compassion Care Act” by supporters, passed the Senate Rule Committee, the Senate Judiciary Committee and the Senate Finance Committee on three consecutive days. A Senate vote on the bill could take place next week (the week of Feb. 26).
Creech told senators that medical marijuana lacks the scientific research needed to support its legalization. The bill, if signed into law, would set up a commission that would issue licenses to individuals and businesses who would then grow, cultivate, produce and sell marijuana for medicinal purposes.
“You are legalizing a psychoactive drug, still classified by the U.S. government as a Schedule I Drug, which ‘has no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.’ You are making an end-run around the FDA, which does not recognize, regulate or approve marijuana as a medicine – a critical institution which has performed an essential service in correctly approving the vast majority of medications we use as safe and effective,” Creech told senators. “You are enshrining into law something that can mislead vulnerable patients and the public, giving them the impression marijuana can help with conditions where the research is inadequate, distorted or even absent. You are providing in law what has historically been a stepping stone to the legalization of recreational marijuana.”
Jere Royall of the North Carolina Family Policy Council told senators that major organizations such as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), American Academy of Neurology, American Psychiatric Association, and American Medical Association do not support the legalization of medical marijuana and have called for more research.
“The research clearly shows that the harms and costs to individuals and families and the state greatly outweigh any potential benefits,” Royall said.
Creech told senators he has a “duty” to warn them of the bill’s devastating impact, even if they support it. The negative impact of marijuana legalization, he added, will be felt in the pocketbook of states and businesses.
“According to information provided by the National Bureau of Economic Research (NEBR), the cost of medical marijuana for employers can be astronomical,” Creech told senators. “Where states do have medical marijuana laws, Social Security Disability Insurance claims rose by almost 10 percent post-legalization.”
The negative impact even can be seen in worker’s compensation claims, Creech said.
“The statistical evidence is hard to come by, but the NBER does say that the data suggests worker’s comp claims increase in state’s post-medical marijuana,” Creech told senators.
Creech quoted Cincinnati attorney Andy Kaplan who was interviewed for a Cincinnati Enquirer story about Ohio’s medical marijuana law.
Said Kaplan, “If an employee says, ‘I need to use medical marijuana during the day, maybe to control seizures, or it helps me with pain,’ what we don’t know is what the impact is going to be on that person’s ability to do the job and do it safely. Without knowing that, that person could be a risk. You don’t want the worker to be in a safety-sensitive position. Even if he’s sweeping the floor, if he doesn’t have his wits about him, and he’s near a press or another piece of machinery, he could get hurt, which would be workers comp. If it’s an injury to a co-worker, it’s workers comp. If it’s a third party who’s hurt, that’s a lawsuit.”
“The NEBR says that researchers suspect widespread recreational marijuana legalization would only cause workers’ compensation claims to skyrocket even more,” Creech said, “as the side effects associated with the drug’s use become more prevalent. Marijuana legalization of any kind involves significant downsides to existing businesses.”
Last year, a landmark study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that marijuana “is no better at relieving pain than a placebo,” said Filip Gedin, a study co-author.
“Our meta-analysis showed that pain was rated as being significantly less intense after treatment with a placebo, with a moderate to large effect depending on each person,” Gedin wrote. “Our team … observed no significant difference between cannabis and a placebo for reducing pain.”