By CHRIS SUTTLE
Chapel Hill, N.C.
While I believe everyone has the right to voice their opinion, I would be turning my back on the industry I love and have been a part of for over 25 years if I did not point out numerous problematic and uninformed statements the esteemed Representative Chuck Edwards has made in his recent opinion piece on cannabis legalization and the EBCI (Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians) which appeared in the Cherokee One Feather Aug. 23, 2023 edition.
The most disappointing one to me is the Representative’s use of the terms “pot” and “marijuana”, not the scientific and industry-accepted term cannabis. Both pot and marijuana are words deeply rooted in systemic racism, sadly something Native Americans and other minorities are no strangers to. I find the use of these terms distasteful and disrespectful considering his intended audience.
His opening statement concerning Congress shirking its duties since 1996 to uphold the very cannabis laws it passed is a very biased opinion. The first attempt at federal regulation of marijuana came in 1906 with the passage of the Pure Food and Drug Act. The act included cannabis among the various substances patent medicine companies were required to list on their labels.
After this act was passed Congress began to pass several bills supporting big pharma, the lumber industry, and bills that target minorities with increased criminal charges for possession or distribution. While the Honorable Representative might believe States passing their own cannabis laws is “thumbing their proverbial noses” at federal law, I believe that states have the right to fight unjust and outdated federal laws by passing legislation that benefits their constituents and their state over what the federal government deems appropriate. The very foundation of our nation is built on the belief in all people having the right to life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, and to escape the shackles of a tyrannous government. States that have legalized cannabis, either medicinally or for adult use, have embraced this belief and stood up for the rights of their citizens. To me, that is an act that deserves praise, not ridicule.
The esteemed representative continues his argument by bringing up the federal Controlled Substance List and its classification of cannabis as a Schedule 1 narcotic. The DEA defines a level one narcotic as a substance or chemical defined as drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse. The drugs listed in this classification are ● Heroin ● Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) ● Cannabis ● Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (ecstasy) ● Methaqualone ● Peyote.
The key phrase here is “no currently accepted medical use”. The New England Journal of Medicine in a 2019 article on a case study of a patient presenting with chronic pain in her left leg and foot took a poll in which 70% of the participating physicians suggested medicinal cannabis as the best treatment option.
Every year the scientific community publishes more and more articles on the human endocannabinoid system and the homeostasis the introduction of cannabis can create for patients dealing with multiple medical ailments. By its very definition cannabis should be removed from Schedule 1 as its medicinal properties are well documented in numerous respectable medical journals.
I myself survived a terminal brain tumor scare 6 years ago through a cannabis micro-dosing procedure I created by studying peer-published medical articles on cannabis use in the treatment of massive brain trauma. Currently, the growth has diminished to a size where it has been deemed a non-issue by my physician, and I continue to improve daily.
This is not a medical issue. It’s not even, at its core, a political one. This is a financial issue. The NCGA members against the legalization of cannabis cannot ignore the billions of dollars it has brought into other states that have legalized cannabis. Even with this economic information, they continue to operate under the idea that if they are not the ones to benefit, then no one should.
I have been involved with both SB711 and its newer version SB3, called the Compassionate Care Act. I have been instrumental in both bills passing the state Senate only to die a slow death in the House both times. What started out as something created out of the compassion Senator Rabon felt for his fellow cancer patients has turned into a polarizing issue with several representatives within the current Republican-controlled halls of the NCGA. Those leaders continue to stonewall any progress on the bill at every turn.
I applaud the EBCI for having the compassion to entertain a vote on September 7th to legalize cannabis for all North Carolina residents over the age of 21. The reduction in opioid use/deaths by allowing chronic pain patients access to cannabis is, in my opinion, the very definition of compassion.
So let Representative Chuck Edwards make empty threats of loss of federal funding. Let him and his compatriots march to Washington to create the Stop the Pot Act. I would rather support those on a state level willing to bring light to those who have been dying in the dark by giving them access to an all-natural proven solution to numerous medical conditions.
I am hopeful the vote on Sept. 7 goes in favor of adult use of cannabis for all North Carolina residents over the age of 21 on tribal lands. I have hosted several sign-up events for the EBCI program across our beloved State and have many more planned for the future.