Christian Action League seeks to prepare now – urges supporters to be aware
By L.A. Williams, Correspondent
Christian Action League
October 25, 2012
RALEIGH — While most folks are concentrating on what happens at the polls Nov. 6, the Christian Action League is already setting its sights on the 2013 Legislative session and preparing for a number of controversial issues which could come before lawmakers.
“Stakes are high for this fall’s election, but we must also concern ourselves with what could follow in January when the winners take office and begin filing bills,” said the Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League. “We wouldn’t be surprised to see proposals for privatized liquor sales and medical marijuana, and depending on the state Supreme Court ruling, a revived push for legalizing and taxing video sweepstakes gambling.”
Gubernatorial candidates Pat McCrory (R) and Walter Dalton (D) both said this week that they would consider taxing and regulating the video sweepstakes industry if the current ban on the addictive games is not upheld by the state’s High Court.
“We pray that legislation passed in 2010 as a follow-up to the 2007 ban of this kind of gambling will be found constitutional, and then law enforcement can start to eradicate these mini-casinos in earnest,” said Dr. Creech. “But if not, come next session we’ll be back where we were last summer when some lawmakers made a case for teaming up with the gambling industry, putting video sweepstakes under the control of the Lottery Commission and trying to capitalize on the wagering that leaves many of our state’s already needy people virtually penniless.”
Bills floated last year projected an estimated 169,000 sweepstakes terminals could be operating across the state — one for every 57 people in North Carolina — if the games were to win lawmakers’ stamp of approval.
“Validating this form of gambling by setting it up as a revenue stream is wrong for North Carolina, and believing that the industry could be effectively regulated is wishful thinking at best,” Dr. Creech said. “We’ll fight any effort to legalize video sweepstakes regardless of the outcome at the N.C. Supreme Court.”
The CAL must also be ready to fight any push for privatized liquor sales, an issue that seems to show up in the mix every few years.
McCrory, who had once called government-run ABC stores part of the state capital’s “culture of corruption,” now says privatization would not be a priority if he were in the Governor’s seat although he still supports the idea. Dalton said he opposes privatization.
“In either case, we know the alcohol industry is forever promoting the idea to lawmakers that we need to ditch the Alcohol Beverage Control system and let the liquor flow via whoever chooses to set up shop and sell it,” Dr. Creech said.
“But North Carolina’s current control system keeps our revenue per capita from alcohol sales among the highest of the states’ and our consumption rates among the lowest. Why would we want to change that?”
Finally, he said, the CAL also expects to see bills filed that would legalize the use of marijuana as a medicine.
“This has come up before, but thankfully never gained traction in the House or Senate. But I think we can expect to see it again in the coming session, especially since the Democratic Party of North Carolina has added promotion of medicinal use of this psychoactive plant to its platform,” Dr. Creech explained.
Still deemed a Schedule I substance by the federal government and often considered the nation’s most abused illegal drug, marijuana has been legalized in 17 states and the District of Columbia, at least for folks suffering from one of a number of illnesses or symptoms. California, the first state to approve the dangerous substance for “compassionate use,” is rife with resulting problems as what was supposed to be a nonprofit enterprise when created in 1996 — growing cannabis for suffering AIDS and cancer patients — has spawned a $1.5 billion industry including large networks of dispensaries and huge growing operations, not to mention drug trafficking and the marketing of the “medicine” to kids via products like pot-laden cotton candy.
“This is one pot we must keep a lid on,” said Dr. Creech. “Marijuana is not medicine, and any attempt to pretend that it is, is just an effort to pave the way for recreational use.”
He said the CAL is already busy compiling research on these and other matters to be prepared to help lawmakers get informed when they arrive in Raleigh for the 2013 session Jan. 9. Education will be the key as, regardless of November’s results, at least 60 percent of members of the House will be freshmen, due to redistricting, retirements and other changes.
“We are excited by the thought of all the enthusiasm and fresh ideas these ladies and gentlemen will bring to the table,” said the Rev. Creech. “But we also want to make sure to help them get a thorough look at some of the more critical issues before they start crafting and approving legislation.”