Following more than an hour of testimony and discussion on Wednesday, the N.C. House Judiciary 1 Committee soundly defeated a bill that would have legalized “medical marijuana” in North Carolina.
Just before the vote, the primary sponsors of House Bill 78-Enact Medical Cannabis Act, Reps. Kelly Alexander (D-Mecklenburg), Becky Carney (D-Mecklenburg), Pricey Harrison (D-Guilford), and Carla Cunningham (D-Mecklenburg) attempted to withdraw the bill from consideration by the committee. Instead, committee chairman Rep. Leo Daughtry (R-Johnston) called for a vote after Rep. Dean Arp (R-Union) made a motion to give the bill an unfavorable report. The voice vote was overwhelmingly in opposition to the bill.
Jere Royall, counsel for the North Carolina Family Policy Council, testified against the bill (see image). “The purpose of our laws is to protect the safety, health, and welfare of our citizens,” Royall said. “The federal government classifies marijuana as a Schedule 1 controlled substance … based on three factors: its high potential for abuse; it currently has no acceptable medical use in treatment in the United States; and there is a lack of accepted safety for use of the drug, even under medical supervision.”
Royall went on to cite safety concerns regarding the use of marijuana including, “impairment of short-term memory; altered judgment and decision making; and mood effects, including severe anxiety or even psychosis, especially following high-dose exposures.” He also stated that, “growing evidence shows that marijuana may be particularly harmful for young people – causing long-term or even permanent impairment in cognitive ability and intelligence when used regularly during adolescence.”
Finally, Royall noted that the U.S. Food & Drug Administration has not approved marijuana as a safe and effective drug, and the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics continue to oppose the legalization of marijuana.
A nearly identical bill was defeated in the House Rules Committee during the 2013 Legislative Session.