By Peyton Majors
Christian Action League
March 3, 2023
A bill that would legalize the production and selling of marijuana for medical purposes passed the North Carolina Senate this week with bipartisan support despite opposition from groups who say there is no scientific support for the issue.
The bill, S.B. 3, passed the Senate 36-10, with 16 Republicans joining 20 Democrats in casting “yes” votes. Every “no” vote came from Republicans.
“Marijuana is not medicine,” said Sen. Jim Burgin, a Republican who represents Harnett County. He opposed the bill.
“It’s bad for kids,” Burgin said. “I think this bill sets up big government, and I think it can easily be changed to legalize [recreational] marijuana.”
The bill, if it becomes 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. The bill now heads to the House, where its prospects are uncertain. Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper previously said he supports such a bill.
Every state in the U.S. that has legalized recreational marijuana first legalized medicinal marijuana. The American Medical Association opposes the legalization of medical marijuana until more research is done.
“The science about the benefits of cannabis is limited, while the available evidence demonstrates that legalizing the adult use of cannabis poses a threat to public health,” the AMA says on its website. “[The] AMA does not support legalization of cannabis for adult use until additional scientific research has been completed to fully document the public health, medical and economic consequences of its use.”
The AMA filed a court brief in 2021 asserting that marijuana is associated with drug abuse and addiction, change in brain function, lung disease, intoxication and impaired driving, impaired cognition, cardiovascular abnormalities, negative social functioning, and cancer.
“While it is possible there may be beneficial medicinal uses of marijuana, numerous evidence-based studies demonstrate that significant deleterious effects abound,” the AMA brief said, adding that “without question, the public health risks are immense.”
The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine says marijuana is associated with lower birth weight, an increase in car accidents and other risks.
Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League, urged senators to oppose the bill.
“This policy initiative will do more harm in the long run than lawmakers seem to understand,” Creech said. “For every moving story one hears about how marijuana is a medicine — how it has helped many lives — there are reports of personal experiences demonstrating the opposite effect. No matter how often you hear it said that smoked cannabis is medicine, the jury is still officially out on the question.”
Marijuana “has not been endorsed as a medicine by any major medical organization,” Creech said.
“There is no consensus that it is a medicine. The idea that marijuana can be used for a long laundry list of conditions – including PTSD, cancer, epilepsy, HIV, AIDS, ALS, Crohn’s disease, sickle cell anemia, Parkinson’s, M.S., cachexia or wasting syndrome, etc. — is nowhere accepted in serious scientific literature. Only ‘snake oil’ has ever been recommended or used for the number of ailments political proponents for marijuana as medicine do.”
Creech acknowledged that public polling supports medical marijuana. But Creech said the polling “usually involves asking people whether they are comfortable with marijuana as a medicine if a doctor prescribes it.”
“That isn’t how it works,” Creech said. “No medical professional in this country can prescribe pot because it is not an FDA-approved medication. These so-called ‘prescriptions’ are not prescriptions but only ‘recommendations’ or ‘notes.’ No actual dosage is given for medical marijuana recommendations for the same reason prescriptions aren’t written. You can’t buy it at a pharmacy, but only at a dispensary. Why? Because it is an end-run around every standard for modern healthcare.”
The North Carolina legislature should “be patient” and wait for more research, Creech said.
“Let’s not get ahead of the science, relying largely on anecdotal evidence,” he said. “We could be doing more harm than good to patients by bypassing the normal processes of clinical trials to actually determine marijuana’s efficacy. Shouldn’t we keep politics out of medicine? Let those trained and know what medicine is make these decisions. Isn’t that the wisest way to approach the question? It is a dangerous thing to be deciding medication by legislative fiat.”