By M.H. Cavanaugh
Christian Action League
March 31, 2022
The results of a new study shed light on why a proposal to legalize so-called medicinal marijuana in North Carolina should not be approved.
SB 711 – The Compassionate Care Act would create a framework for legally selling smoked Cannabis as a treatment for the pain and suffering associated with diseases such as cancer, epilepsy, HIV or AIDS, Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and other conditions. But according to researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital, so-called medical marijuana fails to improve symptoms of pain, anxiety, and depression – while increasing the risk that patients will develop an addiction to Cannabis, the new study warns.
According to a press release from the Hospital (MGH), the lead author of the study, Jodi Gilman, PhD. with the Center for Addiction Medicine, said:
“There have been many claims about the benefits of medical marijuana for treating pain, insomnia, anxiety and depression, without sound scientific evidence to support them. In the first study of patients randomized to obtain medical marijuana cards, we learned there can be negative consequences to using Cannabis for medical purposes. People with pain, anxiety or depression symptoms failed to report any improvements, though those with insomnia experienced improved sleep.”
Gilman added that alarming was the fact individuals with symptoms of anxiety or depression – the most common conditions for which medical marijuana is sought – were most vulnerable to developing a cannabis use disorder. CUD symptoms include the need for more Cannabis to overcome drug tolerance and continued use despite physical or psychological problems caused by Cannabis.
“Our study underscores the need for better decision-making about whether to begin to use cannabis for specific medical complaints, particularly mood and anxiety disorders, which are associated with an increased risk of a cannabis use disorder,” said Gilman.
“What this study demonstrates is what the Christian Action League (CAL) has been telling state senators for weeks now. During committee hearings on the bill, dozens of people implored lawmakers to legalize pot for their physical and emotional pain and said it saved them from suicide. Combat veterans said it was what they needed for their PTSD,” said Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the CAL. “Even the champion of the legislation, Sen. Bill Rabon (R-Bladen), says it was indispensable in his bout with cancer. Still, though well-intended and compelling, these testimonials are not scientific. They are at best anecdotal evidence, which is not something the legislature should be basing medical policy on.”
Creech adds that the new MGH study reflects the findings of a 2017 study from The Journal of Psychiatric Research that found marijuana-dependent Iraq/Afghanistan-era veterans have an increased risk of suicidal thoughts and attempted suicide.
The American Medical Association has said it “believes that scientifically valid and well-controlled clinical trials conducted under federal investigational new drug applications are necessary to assess the safety and effectiveness of all new drugs, including potential cannabis products for medical use.” The AMA also “believes that cannabis for medicinal use should not be legalized through the state legislative, ballot initiative, or referendum process.”
“I’m telling you in truth and with no bias here, by no current medical standards does marijuana qualify as medicine. The legislation for legalizing smoked marijuana for medicine should not be approved. Its proponents will claim the bill is very restrictive, but the evidence against its use for medicinal purposes is mounting,” said Creech. “At the least, we should wait until there’s more research on the matter. We could be doing more harm, or as much harm, as good. I don’t see why some state lawmakers aren’t discerning the wisdom in this position unless there are ulterior motives such as ultimately legalizing pot recreationally, which is big, big, money. We know that is where this will take us.”
In an insightful piece about medical marijuana, Weeding Out the Cannabis Myths, Peter Hurst has rightly argued:
“The perception of Cannabis as a ‘soft-drug’ i.e as relatively non-malign, is one thing, but the purveyors of Cannabis legalization arguments – the progressives, the libertarians & the pragmatists – all benefit from the pseudo-medicalization of Cannabis too. This takes the public-relations regarding Cannabis one step further and attempts to position Cannabis not merely as non-malign but as benign. The image of Cannabis, especially in the USA, has been successfully laundered in this way via the concept of ‘medical marijuana,’ which has served to soften the drug’s image & also proved successful as a wedge issue to open the door to the legalization of recreational use, a marketing trick which is now being used once again in respect to the psychedelics despite the same paucity of evidence.”
SB 711 has already passed the Senate Health Care, Judiciary, and Finance committees and currently resides in the Senate Rules Committee. If passed in Rules, the legislation would go to the Senate floor for a full vote by that chamber. If passed in the Senate, it would then make its way to the House for consideration. Lawmakers are expected to take up the measure when they reconvene in the Spring.
Read the related column by Rev. Creech: Medical Marijuana? Compassion? Balderdash! Our Youth Will Suffer.