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Legalizing Marijuana Isn't Compassionate

Family Policy Matters / NC Family Policy
The Truth Network Radio
April 10, 2023 3:30 pm

Legalizing Marijuana Isn't Compassionate

Family Policy Matters / NC Family Policy

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April 10, 2023 3:30 pm

This week on Family Policy Matters, host Traci DeVette Griggs welcomes Jaime Zerbe, chief of staff at Smart Approaches to Marijuana, along with NC Family's Jere Royall and Sharon Sullivan to discuss the dangers of "medical" marijuana and the impact it could have on North Carolina. 


Welcome to Family Policy Matters, an engaging and informative weekly radio show and podcast produced by the North Carolina Family Policy Council. You are equipped to be a voice of persuasion for family values in your community, state, and nation. And now here is our host of Family Policy Matters, Tracey Devette Griggs.

Thanks for joining us this week for Family Policy Matters. Despite overwhelming recommendations from medical associations and the FDA, North Carolina lawmakers are moving forward on legalizing so-called medical marijuana in our state. The North Carolina Senate has already approved SB3, which they have entitled, NC Compassionate Care Act, a bill that would legalize marijuana use in North Carolina. It now awaits consideration in the State House. To help clarify what this might mean for North Carolina, we've invited Jamie Zerbe, Chief of Staff for Smart Approaches to Marijuana, to bring her knowledge to bear here.

We're also joined today by NC Families Council and Director of Community Impact, Jerry Royal, and our Government Relations Associate, Sharon Sullivan, both of whom have been working hard to educate lawmakers about the implications of this bill. Welcome to all of you. Thank you.

Thank you so much. All right. Well, Jamie, if you would start us off. Take a moment to give us your top reasons for opposing so-called medical marijuana. We're going to dig deeper into those right now.

Give us an overview. Absolutely. So for the marijuana industry, medical legalization is the surest way to achieve full legalization. Medical legalization leads to more youth using marijuana and perceiving it as harmless. But it's not harmless. And we've got decades of science to back that up. Medical marijuana is most often not a different product from recreational marijuana.

Many of the products are actually identical. So just because your state is medical doesn't mean that you're going to be exempt from these consequences that we'll talk about later. People are often surprised to know that the average user, this was a California study that was done. The average user is a 32 year old white male with a history of alcohol and substance abuse and no history of life threatening illness. In Colorado, according to their Department of Health, only two percent of medical marijuana users reported cancer. Less than one percent reported HIV or AIDS as their reason for using marijuana.

Ninety four percent reported severe pain. So it's really important for people to understand that just because a drug has medical potential doesn't mean that it's benign or should be commercially available. We don't vote on what drugs are available. The FDA determines that based on factors like safety and effectiveness.

We have medications on the market with cannabinoids derived from the cannabis plant, but not marijuana in its entirety. So this proves that the FDA process works. This also is something that we'll see the goalposts move. So people definitely need to be aware of that as well. So we will look into those things a little more deeply.

But first, Jerry, let's talk about what's happening here in North Carolina. You've been working on this issue quite a bit. You and Sharon begin by giving us some background on efforts to legalize marijuana here in our state. Tracy, there have been efforts for many years to legalize marijuana as medicine. Every year when we have presented evidence, along with others, about the medical and scientific facts, the bill has been voted down in committee. You know, what we have continued to point to is what the American Medical Association, Food and Drug Administration, American Academy of Neurology, American Psychiatric Association. None of those groups support the use of marijuana as medicine. And that's been compelling for people for many years.

This year, things have changed some, so this year and the past session. But the history up to this point has been when people have seen the facts and the medical and scientific view, they have voted against it. There is a very compelling case against legalizing marijuana in any form in our state. So why are some people in our legislature so motivated to get marijuana legalized in our state? What and who is pushing this here in North Carolina? There are some different individuals and groups who are pushing this, and some of them have been for many years. One of the dynamics that's changed this year and last session is one of the leaders in the Senate, Senator Bill Rabin, himself had cancer, is the primary sponsor of this bill and has focused on the compassion that he feels needs to be shown by legalizing this. I think the point that we have tried to make is that we all want to be compassionate, but we want that compassion to be based on facts and truth and what does medicine and science tell us. And in this case, again, we've continued to find harm and not help. These groups are all saying continue to do research, but at this point, legislative bodies should not move forward with something that continues to show harm and not help.

And as Jamie said, we should be leaving it up to the professionals like the Food and Drug Administration to do the thorough testing before something is put out there for people as something that's helpful or compassionate. So, Sharon, what kind of response and conversations are you getting from people in the legislature? Are you surprised by some of the response that you're getting from people that you might think would be opposed to this? Tracy, actually, yes, real surprised and somewhat caught off guard because, you know, there seems to be this battle between morality and compassion. And if you aren't being compassionate, you're not really following after what God would want us to do. But honestly, I'm trying to, as a nurse, explain to people that there are actual real harms and dangers that you can see when you go into the hospitals.

People coming in with new onset schizophrenia, hyperemesis, which is uncontrollable vomiting, and honestly, other things that we're just not even probably aware of because the FDA has not conducted these studies. But it is pulling at the heartstrings of these members when they're hearing from their constituents about illnesses and having cancer and people that they love were dying and it really helped them and that kind of thing. So we're kind of running up against that. You're listening to Family Policy Matters, a weekly radio show and podcast of the North Carolina Family Policy Council. This is just one of the many ways NC Family works to educate and inform citizens across North Carolina about policy issues that impact North Carolina families. Our vision is to create a state and nation where God is honored, religious freedom flourishes, families thrive, and life is cherished. For more information about NC Family and how you can help us to achieve this incredible vision for our state and nation, visit our website at Again, that's And be sure to sign up to receive our email updates, action alerts, and of course, our flagship publication, Family North Carolina Magazine.

We'd also love for you to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Jamie, you have a more national view of this issue. You worked on it for many years. Now that several states have gone down this path legalizing marijuana, you mentioned some of the statistics of the people who are supposedly using for medical uses and how they don't really have medical issues. What are some other experiences that we can learn from from these other states?

We've learned a lot. We've really learned that medical marijuana brings many of the same consequences as recreational legalization. You know, living near a medical marijuana dispensary is actually associated with more use and with positive association and greater experimentation with young people, youth, you know, young adults. We're talking kids 12 to 17. Medical states also don't fare better with opioid overdose rates.

This is another really common talking point. They actually have fared worse. Recent data that's come out has showed that they've fared worse in overdoses, fatal overdoses. And these states see a spike in poison control calls for children who accidentally ingest marijuana. We're talking children under the age of six.

These are very, very, very young children. More hospitalizations, more ER visits from users. And, you know, these states are also seeing more THC related car crashes.

And as Sharon touched on, marijuana today is far more potent than it's ever been. And so because it's a different product, we're seeing exaggerated consequences, especially in young people. We're seeing more, you know, mental illness. We're seeing poor learning outcomes, lung damage, addiction.

And as she mentioned, you know, things like hyperemesis. And according to the National Institutes of Health, one out of every six adolescents who use marijuana will become addicted and many more will develop problems as a result of marijuana use. So marijuana is actually the most cited drug for teens entering treatment. And just because something is touted as medical and something is regulated does not mean that teens are not going to be able to get a hold of this. We know that based on other states, they are going to be able to get a hold of it.

And so we've also learned that the goalposts will move. Recreation, marijuana will be next and then it will be psychedelic mushrooms. Eventually it will be all drugs. The best way to avoid these consequences is just to prevent them.

The old adage that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure is very true when it comes to medical marijuana. Jerry talked about who's pushing this on the state level, but who is behind all of this in all of these states? I think people have the sense that this is a grassroots thing. You know, give the people power, give them what they want. There's a sense that the people are rising up and asking for this.

But we know better, don't we? There are some big time money being thrown at this issue on the national level. Oh, absolutely. This is big tobacco. This is big alcohol. Businesses who have built their entire business model around addiction for profit.

So these are the exact same players we've seen. You know, now you look at tobacco statistics in the United States. If you were to ask a high schooler, is smoking tobacco safe for you? Almost all of them would say no. But if you were to ask a high schooler, is smoking marijuana safe for you? You know, a good bit of them more than would say no for tobacco would say it's totally harmless.

It's totally fine because we're seeing the exact same players, the exact same money, the exact same influence go into marijuana. And this is you know, this is not a secret. In general, the public is not going to be informed about something like this. They maybe have notions like Jamie's referring to. You can ask them and they don't know that their major medical groups saying no to this. I know one of the clearest examples we've seen in the discussion and debate and a number of the committees early on, they would bring veterans in who were struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder.

And those are very heart-wrenching, compelling stories. But at the same time, I know in our research, we found the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has a whole section on their website encouraging veterans not to look to marijuana, that it leads to harm, that it can leave them in worse condition instead of helping them. The Psychiatric Association says the same thing.

They haven't found it to help any psychiatric disorder. So again, these are facts that people don't know about. I think we're all driven by what our first reaction might be, especially when we don't know what the facts are medically and scientifically.

Absolutely. We want to care for these individuals. We want them to have options. But like you said, it's not just that they don't help. It's that there's a lot of evidence that shows that they actually cause harm. And I think it's important that we make sure to say that this is not the same marijuana that we had 20, 30 years ago. This is a whole different brand.

Absolutely. We're looking at THC potency today that is so much higher than it was decades ago. Woodstock weed, you know, the time of THC being 2 to 5 percent, THC being the psychoactive compound in marijuana.

We're not seeing that anymore. We're seeing THC that in these concentrates and edibles and products like that that have been really manufactured. We're seeing that potency up to 99 percent THC potent.

That's what they're claiming. And so this is really exacerbating a lot of the consequences from use. Let's talk a little bit about resources. So if people want to go back and double check your references on a lot of the things that you've already said, Jamie, where would they go to do that? Well, they can go to our website,, We'd also like to remind our listeners to check out for our coverage of this bill, specifically in North Carolina. Our Action Center is a great resource for you, and it will help you to communicate directly with your senators and representatives about this issue.

So, Jamie, before we go, just give us a takeaway. Really, I think the biggest takeaway is to remember that marijuana in and of itself is not medicine. This is not an issue of compassionate care and helping people who are on their deathbeds. This is an issue of making a drug more normalized and more available for more people.

And the best way to cure this is to prevent it. So once again, those resources, and if you want to get more information on this. So we are grateful for all that you do, all three of you. Jamie Zerbe, Chief of Staff for Smart Approaches to Marijuana, Jerry Royal and Sharon Sullivan, thank you so much for being with us today on Family Policy Matters. Thank you. Thank you.

Thank you. And we would like to hear from you, our listeners, as well. If you have a personal story about how marijuana has impacted you or your family that you would like to share with us and help us to pass that along to the lawmakers, please send us an email at mail at That's mail, M-A-I-L, at

You've been listening to Family Policy Matters. We hope you enjoyed the program and plan to tune in again next week. To listen to this show online and to learn more about NC Family's work to inform, encourage and inspire families across North Carolina, go to our website at That's Thanks again for listening and may God bless you and your family. Music
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-04-10 16:45:58 / 2023-04-10 16:51:58 / 6

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