By M.H. Cavanaugh
Christian Action League
April 15, 2021
There is a new push in the legislature to legalize medical marijuana in the Tar Heel state. Advocates have been going from office to office making their pitch. There have been medical marijuana bills filed since 2008, but this year there is a new dynamic. Some Republicans are on board with the initiative.
Last week, the Raleigh News and Observer and other news outlets reported that Brunswick County Sen. Bill Rabon, chairman of the very powerful Senate Rules Committee, filed a bill to legalize medical marijuana. Rabon was joined by Republican Sen. Michael Lee from New Hanover County in introducing SB 711-NC Compassionate Care Act.
Both Senators Rabon and Lee represent districts where opioid abuse is considerably problematic, and one of their arguments is that its alleged pain-relieving properties help people avoid opioid abuse.
“I know these arguments and have heard them many times before. But some of the latest research on marijuana and opioids is saying just the opposite of what proponents are claiming,” said Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League.
Creech was referring to numerous statements from the health community that are more often than not neglected by the news media.
“It’s strange. There is sometimes suppression of this important information. It seems the news stories always lean in favor of legalization, which undoubtedly prejudices the mind of the public and is reflected in the polling showing favor for legalization,” he said. “People are too often misinformed.”
In 2017, The American Journal of Psychiatry said that marijuana users are more likely to abuse prescription opioids:
“Over 30,000 American adults were sampled and researchers found that marijuana users were more than twice as likely to move on to abuse prescription opioids – even when controlling for age, sex, race/ethnicity, other substance use disorders, any mood or anxiety disorder, prior nonmedical opioid use, and family history of drug use disorder, alcohol use disorder, depression, and anti-social personality disorder.”
In 2018, The Lancet Journal reported:
“A four-year prospective study followed medical marijuana patients with a dual opioid prescription and found that marijuana use had no positive impact on opioid use or reduced prescribing.
“Further, they found that cannabis users were more likely to rate cannabis as a means of effective pain relief, however, other self-reported pain measures indicated the opposite. Users reported greater severity and more day-to-day interference than those that did not use marijuana.”
Also, in 2018, The JAMA International Medicine Journal reported:
“The opioid crisis appears to be worsening where marijuana has been legalized.”
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has provided the following graph:
The Mayo Clinic has advised:
“We recommend avoiding medical marijuana certification in a patient prescribed high-dose opioids given the dearth of evidence for long-term opioid therapy for chronic pain, adding more uncertainty with marijuana seems unwise (2016).”
Creech said that some Democrats had also signed onto SB 711. They include Sens. Paul Lowe (Forsyth), Kirk Deviere (Cumberland), Wiley Nickel (Wake), and Mike Woodard (Durham).
“I must speak frankly; conservative evangelicals understand that Republicans have an array of constituents. However, we elect Republicans largely because they typically reflect our values. So it’s disillusioning whenever Republicans support measures that include vice,” said Creech. “The proponents of this initiative undoubtedly have good intentions, but medical marijuana is actually racing ahead of the science available on its efficacy in treating ailments. Plus, for the industry, medical legalization is the first step to achieving full legalization.”
SB 711 currently resides in the Senate Rules Committee.