North Carolina legislators should proceed cautiously as they consider Senate Bill 711, which will legalize medical marijuana. State businesses, seeing huge revenue opportunities, are already lining up to convince the legislative proponents to consider legalizing “pot” for recreational use as well, with the anticipation that it will generate huge profits and subsequently significant tax revenues.

It is enticement of added tax revenues that is being used to convince the legislature to open the door for recreational use.

The bipartisan bill is scheduled for a July 20 hearing by the Senate Committee on Finance, one of several committee reviews that are required before it can be brought to the full chamber for consideration. The N.C. Compassionate Care Act bill legalizes the prescription of medical marijuana for patients suffering from a set group of diseases to include cancer, epilepsy, positive HIV or AIDS status or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

This week, US Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said he is making it a top priority of his office to eliminate the prohibition of the use of marijuana for any purpose, recreation or medical, announcing that “At long last it (the senate) would take steps to right the wrongs of the failed war on drugs.”

Senator Schumer’s description of “war on drugs” is indicative of the misconception of the problem. Drug abuse is not an acute event that can be won as a battle. Drug abuse is symptomatic of a long term, chronic disease better known as addiction. Wars by their nature are efforts to win a final victory over an opponent, in this case drug abuse, and then to be done with the effort. That is not the case with the various social wars being “waged” for societal benefits such as the war on poverty, obesity, smoking and drugs; are all doomed to fail as wars.

Drug abuse is merely symptomatic of an ongoing chronic addiction problem that will only be controlled but never defeated. Every year there is a new addiction problem such as the recently identified addiction to gaming and cellphone usage. More addictions will be soon to follow.

These issues will never be fully conquered and the faster we recognize this the quicker we will come to grips with both the means and abilities to handle these chronic problems.

The economic arguments and the push by businesses to open up recreational marijuana use ignore the potential long term damage that removing controls on this substance will have on society. There is no question there are already numerous substances, including alcohol and nicotine from either cigarettes or vapes, that are creating havoc. But that is no reason to open the door to yet another opportunity for substance abuse that many in law enforcement and drug counseling consider a gateway drug to other more addictive substances.

As Sen. Schumer was making his announcement, The New York Times published a story with the headline, “It’s Huge, It’s Historic, It’s Unheard-of : Drug Overdose Deaths Spike.” In that story, reporters Josh Katz and Margot Sanger-Katz noted that drug overdose deaths in 2020, according to the Centers for Disease Control, numbered 93,000 - a 30% increase over the previous high.

News-Times reporter Cheryl Burke, detailed in the July 11 edition, the efforts of Hope Recovery Homes, a Christian ministry providing a rehabilitation program for individuals seeking to recover from alcohol and drug addictions. Her story notes that the county recorded 316 overdose deaths last year and the numbers for 2021 are unfortunately on pace with the previous year.

The problem is so significant that Carteret County Sheriff Asa Buck has equipped his patrol deputies with NARCAN, a substance that counteracts the physiological impacts of acute opioid overdoses. Many of the local police departments are doing the same thing.

Sheriff Buck has expressed frustration over the continued push to legalize recreational use of marijuana. He, as do several legislators who are supporting medical marijuana, acknowledges that it is a useful medical tool for patients. But the sheriff’s primary concern is that it can be used for recreational purposes with very little effort.

Commenting on recent polls that show public support for the initiative, Sheriff Buck is frustrated with the poll conclusions showing that upwards to 60% of those asked are supportive of legalizing marijuana for recreational use. He contends that because the current use of recreational “pot” is illegal, the vast majority of the public has little experience for the basis of a response.

The sheriff argues correctly, that the only valuable survey audience would be those who have firsthand experience in working with drug users, such as law enforcement, emergency medical crews, and firefighters along with teachers and drug counselors. They encounter recreational marijuana and other drug users in the course of their day-to- day jobs so they will have a more intelligent response to any survey questions.

The legislature needs to clearly understand that while the business community supporting recreational use of marijuana has only dollars in its collective eyesight, the public will be left with smoke in its collective eyes dealing with the impacts of broken families and lives. The focus should not wander from the bill’s intended purpose- providing compassionate care.

(10) comments

drewski

Reefer Madness from the center.

Pretty sure " gateway drug" was debunked in the 1970's.

Equally sure carteret county like the rest of the country is awash in weed, narcotics, and prescription drugs of abuse.

Currently those drug sales fund cartels, and criminals. Feed a property crime wave.

This country was flooded with narcotics legal prescription narcotics by big pharma, when the feds finally cracked down, the addicts turned to herion and synthetics.

Stats from weed legal states suggest less not more young ppl are using Marijuana.

Something like half the states now have legal weed, so not only can you buy illicit weed, you can buy legal weed elsewhere.

Does it make sense to fund cartels, or fund rehab?

David Collins

Gotta love the names they put on these various bills that open wide the door for abuse . Weed for the in firmed will only spread to the general population by hook or crook . Just look at the other states that have done this . The fact that the likes of Schumer are for it is a negative , IMO . Smoked up people often make bad choices as it is and doing so at voting time is not wise . Quite sure that is part of his motivation , keep um dumb and beholden .

Having said that , I personally do not give a rats hind parts about all this . Plenty out there and readily available to all who wish to imbibe . Has been there for years and years . Locking folks up for using is stupid unless they commit a serious crime in doing so . Dealing in drugs should be dealt with in the realm of failure to pay taxes on sales with appropriate dispensation . The old hit them in the pocket thing . Far more effective and bountiful . Cost of apprehension , court cost , punitive fines and all that . At least the rest of their lives won’t be tainted by jail time , should they decide to go straight at some point . Will also save the taxpayers tons of money that would be spent on needless incarceration costs .

mpjeep

Some 33 plus states, including DC, have legalized the medical use of marijuana since it was considered a controlled substance in 1970.

Proponents of medical marijuana say that it can be a safe and effective treatment for specific medical symptoms.

I knew a man in the later stages of Parkinson’s who used marijuana daily. He passed away this year but insisted it helped with his pain and nausea. He said it reduced his need for opioids and, toward the end, lessen his need for morphine.

I’ve never heard of anyone that overdosed on marijuana. As long as it is an amount that is considered for personal use, I see no problem with its legalization.

And sheriff Buck, don’t your officers have bigger fish to fry than looking for and arresting users of a drug considered medically appropriate by duly licensed medical practitioners?

drewski

You don't have to look much past " civil forfeiture " to discover just how profitable drug enforcement can be. Never mind keeping the defense lawyers employed and the jail house full. I would venture to say 50% of prison inmates are there for drug or drug related crime. How much do we spend on prisons? Bet it is considerably more then rehab, or schools for that matter.

quicksand

Why doesn’t the editor just say that they are against freedom? This editorial is completely the opposite of personal freedom and having the ability to accept personal responsibility….

JusticeForAll

The problem is that this bill is about 40 years too late...

mpjeep

Marijuana (CBD - cannabidiol - compounds present in cannabis) for Pets.

Pet owners report success in treating their animals with CBD.

Many pet owners swear by the use of CBD to treat ailments such as anxiety, pain, digestive issues, and inflammation.

JohnnyR

There is absolutely no proof that marijuana is required for drug addition, the whole "gateway" nonsense was proven false years ago as Drew pointed out. It is simply a natural plant that has a lot of great qualities aside from just getting high. And even for folks that want to get high, it has been proven far less harmful than alcohol. There is no reason other than stuck mindsets to keep it illegal.

North Carolina has a great climate and soil for growing marijuana, it would be also be great for our farmers to legalize it.

David Collins

Just like the Poppy plant . Pretty on the outside , dangerous beneath .

JohnnyR

So you equate poppy plants (Heroin) with marijuana David? I agree with you that opioids are dangerous, lot's of facts to back that up. But could you please point me to the harm of casual marijuana usage?

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