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September 13, 2021 2:36 pm
This week on Family Policy Matters, host Traci DeVette Griggs welcomes Luke Niforatos from Smart Approaches to Marijuana to discuss the dangers of legalizing marijuana in North Carolina and nationwide. Niforatos reveals how big tobacco and big alcohol have taken over the marijuana industry and are “corrupting” the plant to make it as addictive and potent as possible.
Family policy matters and engaging and informative weekly radio show and podcast produced by the North Carolina family policy Council hi this is John Rustin, presidency, family, and were grateful to have you with us for this week's program is our prayer that you will be informed and encouraged and inspired by what you hear on family policy matters and that you will flow better equipped to be a voice of persuasion for family values in your community, state and nation, and now here's our house to family policy matters Tracy to bedrooms. Thanks for joining us this week for family policy matters and making progress in the North Carolina Gen. assembly. This term is the legalization of marijuana in our states, although tailored to medical uses alone SB 711, entitled NC compassionate care act would be North Carolina's first foray into legalizing marijuana would establish a supply chain for it, what are the potential impacts while here to help us explore this issue is live near Broadus Executive Vice President at smart approaches to marijuana and alliance of organizations and individuals dedicated to a health first approach to marijuana policy Luke welcome to family policy matters.
We thank you so much for having me on. What does it mean when you say you advocate for a health first approach to marijuana policy. Thank you to our organization is the nation's leading national nonprofit, nonpartisan organization you're working on the marijuana issue and from our perspective with you. This is a public health issue, not a profit or revenue if you public health. We need to listen to our scientists and doctors and medical professionals. What comes the policy on marijuana. So what the American Medical Association will tell you and what the American Academy of pediatrics will tell you in all the major medical Association will tell you that marijuana is a harmful addictive drug that needs to be treated for what it switches. It is coming harmful to be discouraged like you or any other drug out there so for health first approach we need to not allow an industry to form around it and that's what happens when you legalize marijuana. Tracy is you get a whole new industry now backed by big tobacco and big alcohol billions of dollars in that industry. That totally changes the drug which I can talk about will bit more later, but makes much more addictive and really starts to inflict a lot of harm on public health. So we want to do things to protect the public health not hurt public health and so that's what we see this approach is being looked don't legalize it, we can decriminalize maybe low-level possession of it. So people don't go to jail revenue joint in your pocket.
But let's not allow the production and sales of this drug while you touched on a really important point that I think a lot of people don't really understand is big tobacco or big corporations that are that are behind this push and that's not the way they they promote this is that no not at all and you look at the history of tobacco 5000 years ago people were smoking tobacco but they weren't developing all kinds of cancer from it. We want signaling to people across the world, dying from it, but about 100 years ago we had the invention of the cigarette.
The first ever big tobacco industry. The global supply chain and they adulterated the tobacco plant.
The added ammonia, nicotine and other things in the cigarettes and they got people addicted hooked in all kinds of cancers and other harms happens and yelled next thing we know millions of people across the world are dying from tobacco-related cancer and other forms of disease. So what we are seeing with marijuana is very similar to that where we have a plant that you know has been around for thousands of years not really used by a lot of people, but it's been around but now it's being taken by a massive, multibillion dollar industry that has taken over $2 billion from the tobacco industry a loan that has taken marijuana adulterated it, bread it to be much more potent than it's ever been. Now 99% potency THC agreement gets you high compared to just 2 to 3% potency which is natural to the plant two decades ago, so it's totally different much more potent much more addictive and so now are starting to see these harms come out mental health issues schizophrenia issues with pregnant mothers and children in the womb all kinds of problems that we never really saw the struggle for that were now seeing because of legalization because of this commercialized model that's happening and it's called addiction for profit and that's what this is, in your from a company perspective you want to deliver returns to your shareholder.
So when you have big tobacco coming in and putting in $2 billion in this industry need to get a return on investment that your marijuana industry does and the only way that they can do that is by selling the Thanh more weed and making it very addictive and it's really interesting you look at Colorado. Just 4% of the marijuana users in Colorado make up 70% of the marijuana sales in our state that some the latest numbers soak 4% make up 70% of the sales for this drug. They are heavily addicted heavily using this drug and that is what the industry wants state they they unfortunately because of that profit incentive derive their money from addiction and that's why we need to keep industry out of North Carolina on and not allow this drug to become commercialized. Let's talk a little bit about the difference in is there a difference between medical use and recreational marijuana policy on so that you asked that question Tracy because there's just this misnomer out there that there's a difference between medical and recreational marijuana. Now listen to me. I am from Colorado I lived before, during, and after legalization.
I was here we legalize medical I was here only legalize recreational now raising two young daughters in the state. My lovely wife so I know firsthand what happens and I will tell you first off that the marijuana being sold in our court."
Medical marijuana dispensaries is just weed. It's just the same weed that they're selling the recreational dispensaries. In fact, when we legalize recreational marijuana. Back in 2012 and went live in 2014 the medical marijuana shops just changed their signs to say recreational marijuana shops and the continued selling the exact same products and so that's the first misnomer others and somehow different. The second misnomer and and will miss that. People think out there is that you'll medical marijuana must go through some sort of clinical trials and be regulated by scientists and people getting prescription for it. None of that is the case, the FDA has not approved whole plant of marijuana smoked marijuana, edible marijuana as any kind of medication so the medical marijuana that you would get in North Carolina at this bill were to pass would just be completely unregulated, un-prescribe a bowl marijuana that you would just smoke or eat or what you know, whatever it might be and so there's no scientists that are reviewing this drug is no FDA testing to ensure that its correct when you get the recommendation from your doctor for this medical marijuana. You're not getting a prescription that means you're not to get dosage. You're not gonna get refills you're knocking to be told what the potency is that you should have your knocking know anything, so it works completely unlike any medication we have in the history of this country. I don't know about all of you, but I don't remember us voting on add bill to be to be sold out of pharmacies. I don't remember us voting on you know any of these other drugs sweetly get prescriptions for so you know what this really is about is giving the industry a foothold in your state therein a collet medical but really is the same thing is recreational and or to try to get more normalization regular pot shops in their ads and their products all across the state build up the market and get people demanding recreational marijuana and in the next thing you know you'll have recreational so it's very important that we understand what is going on here and how this drug is not medical in and of itself. Now the FDA has approved a few marijuana based medications you can get prescriptions for and that really is what we should be focusing on what comes to a medical approach to instruct dose. What is a just a few indications that the FDA skin that the approved short THC called Marinol and that is something that you can get a prescription for that from your doctor, and a prescription inflated dosage and refills and all that stuff it so that has them some benefit for cancer patients.
For example, you will note that got pure THC so that's just one component from the plant that's a component to get too high, but there are actually over 500 components contained within the marijuana plant so it's an extract of that plant just that one component so it's it's different from smoking. The whole plant where you get all these other things in it to. This is scientifically precise, so that's one then we have your CPD which is called epic dialects. That's also been approved by the FDA. You can get a prescription for that as well, that indicated to help with a few different types of very very rare seizures that are out there and so that's been prescribed for that. So those are just two examples I think a lot of people don't realize that the FDA is has approved these drugs that the FDA is actually considering a host of other marijuana based medications that are currently going through clinical trials and that is the way the scientific process should work if we don't go to that process and we say well medications should just be unleashed on the public, then what you have is these horrific drugs with terrible consequences. Just being tested on the public at will. My don't think that's a good policy for developing sound medications in this country. I think a lot of people could be harmed from that. So we have to be really careful with the way we treat her medications because it could hurt innocent patient well you mentioned earlier national statistics and you are talking about mental health and addiction. I just hear people that are supporters of legalized marijuana saying to themselves all yeah sure I can just guarantee those are great credible sources but they aren't they, what are some of the sources that you use when you're talking about the problems that legalize marijuana causes certainly an enforceable I would encourage everyone to go to our website. Learn about Sam.org and what you find there is information that is vetted by scientists to our science advisory board is made up of people from Harvard, Princeton and Yale for the world's leading researchers on marijuana. There are literally currently doing research on marijuana right now is for speaking on the phone so these people review our work they do research studies to get them published on we also pulled from other research that's been peer-reviewed from peer-reviewed journals.
So that's what we reference design.
Could you check our website, but I will highlight a few key studies that come out just the last couple of years. The Lancet neuropsychiatry. That's probably the foremost one of the foremost scientific journals in the world just a sterling reputation a sterling name published a research study two years ago that found that regular users of today's high potency marijuana being in same product formulations. There up to 99% potency. Those kinds of products with high-quality products regular users of them are five times more likely to develop schizophrenia or psychosis, according to the study and the study followed over 2000 people across major metropolitan areas over a number of years so very credible study very concerning findings.
You in terms of mental health outcomes. Another study that came out found that mothers if your pregnant order or breast-feeding for children and those in that story as a child in the womb of the child.
Breast-feeding is actually two times more likely to develop autism. If the mother is using marijuana, which is a deeply concerning study unpopular early on we need to see a lot more research on that. But that was very concerning findings just on that research just came out last year and in terms of addiction. We know this just from the fact of what were seeing our hospitals and clinics because yes, marijuana is addictive. You know there's an industry myth out there that marijuana is harmless and not addictive, but are scientists in our doctors on have created a diagnosis code called cannabis use disorder, and if you have marijuana addiction. They will diagnose you with it in their medical systems and so we seen diagnoses for marijuana addiction triple over the last decade, so we have now over 4 million Americans that are classified as having a marijuana use disorder to the addiction rates are skyrocketing on as a result of what was seen with with legalization what was medical or or or recreational so those are some tears of concern, but will finish with Tracy's note there are a lot of concerns around driving.
You know, and I think that's one of the things that Americans across the country are very concerned about which as you know marijuana impairs you while you're driving and so Colorado and Washington state both saw our marijuana impaired driving deaths double after legalization, that's according to the latest federal and state statistics on the on road dust casualties in an accident. So were seeing, you know, marijuana, impaired drivers killed twice the number of people after legalization is before I'm in Oregon. Half of all the drivers that they tested on the roads tested positive for marijuana sourcing a huge increase in impairment on the roads and so that's something that you were to be watching for as well because there's no roadside test. There is no standard for impairment like we have an alcohol, there's no .08 limit so it really is the wild West when it comes to trying to keep our roads safer as a result of these policies. Excellent information but were just about at a time before we go. Luke never rod us. Where can I listeners go to learn more about how your organization and what you've been talking about. Our website is learn about Sam.org that's learn about SAM smart approach to marijuana.org you'll find all kinds of materials all of our sources are peer reviewed or cited properly so you can double check the research yourself in and get informed on this issue.
I would just encourage you to make sure your state did not become another victim of big marijuana. They are saying this is medical in your state, but all of the qualifying conditions in the bill are not supported by science. To be given marijuana for so please contact your legislator of North Carolina and let them know the truth about the science around this drug and help bring this industry and the door is gonna be bad for North Carolina Luke Nicaragua's Executive Vice President at smart approaches to marijuana. Thank you so much for being with us today on family policy matters. You been listening to family policy matters. We hope you enjoyed the program and plenitude in again next week to listen to the show online into learn more about NC families want to encourage and inspire families across Carolina. Our website it NC family.org that's NC family.org. Thanks again for listening and may God bless you and your family