By M.H. Cavanaugh
Christian Action League
February 11, 2016
RALEIGH – This week, Carolina Journal (CJ), ran an article titled, Short Session May Consider Legalizing Medicinal Pot. The article featured Rep. Kelly Alexander’s (D-Mecklenburg) advocacy for making medicinal marijuana available for people suffering from terminal illnesses.
“We passed two bills dealing with CBD oil that were driven by compassion,” Alexander told CJ. “It would make a lot of sense if we were to build upon what the legislature has done and look at people who are in the end phase of life.”
Alexander was the primary sponsor of HB 78 – Enact Medical Cannabis Act last year. The measure had a serial referral to be heard in the Judiciary I, Health, and Regulatory Reform Committees, but didn’t even clear the first committee. Instead, it was given a unanimous unfavorable report, which prevents any legislation with a medical marijuana component from being taken up in the 2015-2016 legislative biennium.
CBD oil is the substance found in marijuana that has been proven to help some seizure disorders. CBD oil has a high level of cannabidiol, CBD, a substance found in both hemp and marijuana, but it has very low levels of tetrahydrocannabinol, THC, the substance that produces a “high” for marijuana users.
The two measures that passed and became law that Alexander referred to were HB 1220 – Hope 4 Haley and Friends and HB 766 – Amend Cannabidiol (CBD) Oil Statute. Both bills were championed by Rep. Pat McElraft (R-Carteret).
Hope for Haley and Friends was named for 6-year-old Haley Ward of Newport, who suffered from an intractable seizure disorder. The bill legalized the use of CBD oil for people like Haley, who suffer from severe seizures and are unresponsive to other medications. The new law also stipulated that patients could not have access to the medication unless they were getting it from a medical institution participating in a pilot study.
Unfortunately, a snag developed with the new law when neurologists in the state were reluctant to prescribe CBD oil because it’s never been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. So in the following legislative session, the long session of 2015, McElraft proposed amending the law, authorizing certain neurologists to prescribe the drug without participating in a pilot study and changing the requirements for who qualifies as a “caregiver,” removing the obstacles for the drug to be provided to families in need.
Alexander now says he wants to follow up those “compassionate” legislative initiatives with a measure that would legalize the use of smoked marijuana for people suffering from terminal illnesses. He suggested the state might consider tweaking the CBD oil statute to allow for it.
CJ quotes Representative David Lewis (R-Harnett), chairperson of the House Rules Committee, as saying, “I think we would have to look at the bill and then have the opportunity to discuss it.” Chairperson of the Judiciary I Committee, Rep. Leo Daughtry (R-Johnston), said he would like to hear more about the proposal.
But Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League, said he didn’t think lawmakers would seriously consider taking up a medical marijuana bill for a couple of reasons.
“First, I don’t believe that they can. The last legislation concerning medical marijuana was defeated in committee with an unfavorable report. That means legislation with a medical marijuana component as Alexander describes is not supposed to be taken-up during this legislative biennium,” said Dr. Creech.
“Furthermore, it seems highly unlikely Republican lawmakers who are in the majority would want to take up such highly controversial legislation in the short session and during an election year. Still, if there’s one thing I’ve learned about the legislative process, you always need to be on high alert and assume the worst – anything can happen,” said Dr. Creech.
Dr. Creech also insisted that CBD Oil is not the same as medical marijuana.
“It’s nothing like medical marijuana; there are no two ways about it,” he said. “CBD Oil is limited to a specifically well recognized and diagnosed medical condition. It’s manufactured in a pharmaceutical grade laboratory and results in a liquid dose that can be controlled. You can’t get ‘stoned’ on CBD oil. Medical marijuana, however, is farmed, smoked, and will make you high. It’s ridiculously dispensed for just about any ailment today where it has become legal. It’s not the same animal.”
Parents Opposed to Pot, a national organization that provides hard-core science on marijuana, contends, “Medical marijuana has always been the cover for a plan to bring full-scale legalization. The marijuana industry plays the ‘compassion’ game to gain sympathy supporters and gradually get public acceptance…Once the industry markets itself to potential patients, many of these so-called patients get ‘hooked.’ The industry’s tactic of getting more people addicted has succeeded by introducing the potent strains of marijuana, and by targeting the young.”
Dr. Creech concluded he believes any proposal to legalize medical marijuana for the terminally ill should be off the table because it gives credence to the myth that smoked marijuana is medicine.
“Pass such legislation, in the name of ‘compassion’ for the terminally ill, and you have not only perpetuated the myth that smoking marijuana is medicinal, but you’ve also given up critical ground,” said Dr. Creech. “For it will inevitably be said, ‘Well, if it’s good enough to provide some quality of life for the dying, surely it ought to be good enough to provide the quality of life the living want.’ That’s not how medicine is determined. It only obscures our state and nation’s vision of true medicine and puts all of us at risk.”