I am testifying today in strong support of HB84 – The North Carolina Medical Cannabis Act. As you may be aware, this Bill has been referred to the Rules Committee for the third time in four years. The last two times it was effectively ignored. I attach the results of a poll conducted by Public Policy Polling just last month, which shows that 58% of our state's population believes that doctors should be allowed to prescribe cannabis for medical use. If the majority of Carolinians are in favor of a well regulated medical cannabis program in North Carolina, don't you think this bill at least deserves a better fate than merely dying again in the Rules Committee? I urge you to give your personal attention to HB84 and forward it along so it can at least receive a floor vote THIS session.
Go directly to jail? Rely on the black market for their medicine? States with medical cannabis programs typically enroll about 1% of their population. That would translate to nearly 95,000 people in North Carolina! HB84 offers a safer, more sensible, compassionate choice for the thousands upon thousands here who already regard cannabis as their treatment of choice. I'm not talking about getting high! I'm talking about real people with real medical conditions who find that cannabis alleviates their suffering more effectively and with less side effects than the conventional medicines generally available.
Raised in a Christian home and having attended a private Christian school, I was familiarized with the Bible at an early age. With the exception of the “Tree of Knowledge of Good & Evil”, I've yet to find a passage condemning the use of any plant, nor endorsing its state criminalization. To the contrary, First Timothy 4:4 reads, “For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected, provided it is received with thanksgiving”. Honestly, I've never been able to understand how Christian values are exemplified by denying people access to medicine that will ease suffering, improve quality of life and function.
While medical cannabis may seem like a risk to public safety, it is in fact a benefit. First of all, people already are using cannabis here. Does throwing them in jail make Carolina a safer place to live? Certainly not for them! How many cannabis related car accidents have you ever heard of? Evidence compiled by the National Highway Transportation Administration demonstrates that cannabis users may actually be safer drivers(www.kushmagazine.com/news/2549-auto-insurance-quote-provider-says-marijuana-users-are-safer-drivers?catid=842) and another study indicates that the incidence of deaths attributed of drunk driving decreases after the enactment of medical cannabis legislation (www.theatlanticcities.com/commute/2011/11/medical-marijuana-laws-may-lead-fewer-traffic-deaths/609/). Consider how many public safety resources being directed towards cannabis prohibition could be redirected to actual risks to public safety, like violent crimes and thefts. Judge Jim Gray has been articulate on this issue: (www.youtu.be/b6t1EM4Onao) If public safety truly is a concern of yours, take a look at this data compiled by the Adverse Events Reporting System managed by the FDA (www.drugwarfacts.org/cms/Causes_of_Death). In 2000, 19,445 deaths were directly attributed to FDA approved drugs. Note how these numbers quadrupled in only 10 years, during which time nearly a half a million deaths were attributed by the FDA to FDA approved medicines! Compare these numbers to the zero deaths attributed to cannabis use – throughout recorded history.
Please contact me by phone or email if you have any questions. I'd be happy to meet with you and provide any further documentation you may require. I plead with you to support HB84 - The North Carolina Medical Cannabis Act, and if you don't personally support it, please at least afford it a hearing, giving it and the countless citizens who would benefit from its enactment the attention it deserves.
Kevin Baiko, M.D.,