By Hunter Hines
Christian Action League
May 22, 2020
“Toking, Drinking, and less educational freedom is what the Democrats in North Carolina believe is in the best interest of our state,” said Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League. “All of my family years ago used to be Democrats. I was a Democrat. And I know ministers should remain as non-partisan as possible, but I would be derelict in my calling to Christ if I didn’t warn people that the Democratic Party has gone off the rails.”
Rev. Creech was talking about three bills that were introduced the first week the legislature reconvened for the Short Session. Each was sponsored and cosponsored solely by House and Senate Democrats.
House Bill 1143 – Modify Tax on Marijuana Products, sponsored by Derwin L. Montgomery (D-Forsyth), along with nine other Democrats, proposes to legalize medical marijuana in the Tar Heel state. The bill’s title fallaciously insinuates medical marijuana would help the state with tax revenues. It also seeks to capitalize on the pandemic’s injuries to the economy by suggesting that it would help with a new and needed revenue stream.
The primary question is whether marijuana is actually medicine.
A position statement by the American Psychiatric Association as late as 2019 on the use of cannabis as medicine, says:
“There is no current scientific evidence that cannabis is in any way beneficial for the treatment of any psychiatric disorder. In contrast, current evidence supports, at minimum, a strong association of cannabis use with the onset of psychiatric disorders. Adolescents are particularly vulnerable to harm, given the effects of cannabis on neurological development.”
The American Medical Association has consistently said:
“Cannabis is a dangerous drug and, as such, is a public health concern.” And most recently, the AMC asserted, “The AMA has urged legislatures to delay legalizing cannabis until further research is completed on the public health, medical, economic, and social consequences of its use.”
There are similar statements from the American Cancer Society, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and others.
William J. Bennet, America’s first drug czar under President George H.W. Bush, has rightly argued:
“The idea that medical marijuana can be used for a long laundry list of conditions, such as we hear about in states that have approved medical marijuana at the ballot box, is nowhere accepted in serious scientific literature.”
Quoting, Drs. Samuel Wilkinson and Deepak Cyril D’Souza, of the Yale School of Medicine, Bennet continues:
“‘The many conditions for which medical marijuana is approved have no common etiology, pathophysiology, or phenomenology, raising skepticism about a common mechanism of action.’
“No one medicine has ever been recommended or used for the number of diseases and ailments political proponents of medical marijuana say it is a therapy for. The proponents have turned it into some kind of miracle drug while, at the same time, the scientific literature finds marijuana either dangerous or of extremely limited use, and often both,” added Bennett.
Rev. Creech said, “Medical marijuana is the first step to the legalization of recreations marijuana. It has always been that way. I think the old motto of the Christian Action League is pertinent in this case: ‘That which is morally wrong cannot be economically or politically right.’”
Senate Bill 748 – Expand Mixed Beverage Sale During Pandemic, sponsored by Democrat Senators, Harper Peterson, and Jay J. Chadhuri, along with seven more Democrats as cosponsors, is a recycling of a provision the League lobbied feverishly to have removed from the COVID 19 Relief measure, which passed a couple of weeks ago. Fortunately, lawmakers decided not to include it.
Pro-alcohol forces pushed for the provision to allow restaurants to sell two mixed drinks per takeout meal in lidded cups curbside until the state’s stay-at-home order during the pandemic is lifted.
Rev. Creech said:
“I recognize this legislation has good intentions. It’s supposed to help the ailing restaurant and lodging industry, but it also hurts another segment of our state’s citizens. Drinking is sky high during the pandemic. This dynamic poses a unique challenge for people suffering from alcoholism or an alcohol use disorder. People who drink too much weaken their immune system and become more susceptible to respiratory ailments like pneumonia and possibly the coronavirus. Whenever we create additional means for people to get alcohol, the science says dangerous consumption levels rise. Curbside cocktails create scenarios that make impaired driving and underage drinking more likely. What’s more, I think it could work against the state’s overarching goal of keeping Emergency Rooms and hospitals freed up. I believe our Republican friends in the Senate saw the wisdom of not doing this. So I hope they won’t join the Democrats in their efforts to revisit this bad idea.”
Lastly, House Bill 1129 – Ensure a Sound Basic Education, sponsored by Democrat Representatives Greg Meyer, Ashton Wheeler Clemmons, Cynthia Ball, and Raymond E. Smith, Jr., along with 36 other Democrats, call for the elimination of North Carolina’s Opportunity Scholarship Program.
North Carolina’s Opportunity Scholarships Act, which passed by the General Assembly in 2013, helps students from low-income and working-class families attend a private school, even a Christian school, by providing state-funded tuition scholarships up to $4200 annually per student.
It was a Republican lead legislature that passed the program and has increased funding in the following years.
John Rustin, president of the North Carolina Family Policy Council, released a statement on Thursday about HB 1129. Rustin said:
“Considering the unprecedented crisis facing our state, our nation, and the global community, it is unbelievable that a top priority of these legislators – and the Governor for that matter – is to rip existing education options out of the hands of working-class and economically disadvantaged families. Instead, our state leaders should be doing all they can to empower parents to determine the best educational environment for their children and to help them get there. If anything, the coronavirus pandemic has allowed parents to experience first-hand how unique and different children are, and inadequate a primarily one-size-fits-all public school system is for effective education.”
“There you have it,” said Rev. Creech. “For a good picture of the priorities of the Democrats in the General Assembly this year, you need to look no further. Entice vice. Public health be damned as long as it makes money for the government. Education? The poor be damned, they’re just a heart-warming talking point for political campaigns. If public education isn’t good enough for them, they don’t deserve the opportunity at anything else.”
All three of these bills have been referred to the Rules Committee of their respective chambers.