Based on current medical research, medical marijuana should not be legalized in North Carolina.

We all want to be compassionate and help people in need. As we look for potential health benefits of marijuana, we also need to look at the harm to individuals, their families, their community, and our state. To find the facts, we need to look to medical professionals and see what they have found in their research. 

To date, the Food and Drug Administration has approved one cannabis-derived drug product to treat seizures associated with epilepsy and three synthetic cannabis-related drug products to treat nausea and vomiting caused by cancer chemotherapy and loss of weight and appetite for AIDS patients. The FDA has not approved marijuana for medicinal use. 

The American Academy of Neurology states that it does “not support the use of, nor any assertion of therapeutic benefits of, cannabis products as medicines for neurologic disorders in the absence of sufficient scientific peer-reviewed research to determine their safety and specific efficacy.” The Academy points out, “The FDA-approved plant-based CBD product is an example that has now proven to be sufficiently safe and effective for the treatment of seizures for certain epilepsy patients.”

The American Psychiatric Association, in its Position Statement in Opposition to Cannabis asMedicine,encourages further research andstates: “There is no current scientific evidence that cannabis is in any way beneficial for the treatment of any psychiatric disorder. In contrast, current evidence supports, at minimum, a strong association of cannabis use with the onset of psychiatric disorders. Adolescents are particularly vulnerable to harm, given the effects of cannabis on neurological development.” 

The American Medical Association Policy Statement on “Cannabis Legalization for Medical Use” says that the AMA “believes that cannabis for medicinal use should not be legalized through the state legislative, ballot initiative, or referendum process….” In a related 2021 article on the AMA website about a friend of the court brief filed by the AMA and the Mississippi State Medical Association, there is a section entitled “Initiative Hurts Public Health.” It quotes the current AMA policy opposing state legislative legalization and tells the court the basis for its opposition:

“While it is possible there may be beneficial medicinal uses of marijuana, numerous evidence-based studies demonstrate that significant deleterious effects abound,” the brief tells the court, going on to say that “without question, the public health risks are immense:”

            • Drug abuse and addiction.
            • Change in brain function.
            • Lung disease.
            • Intoxication and impaired driving.
            • Developmental interference.
            • Impaired cognition.

  • Psychological illness.
  • Cardiovascular abnormalities. 
  • Negative social functioning effects.
  • Cancer.

The brief tells the court a “massive amount of future systemic research and controlled trials’ are needed to study the safety and efficacy of cannabis for medicinal purposes.”

At this point, the medical and scientific research clearly shows that the harms to individuals, families, and the state greatly outweigh any potential benefits.   

Jere Royall is director of community impact and counsel at the NC Family Policy Council.