Why This Matters

Why does legalizing cannabis matter? The following is by no means a comprehensive list, but it does addresss many of the excuses given by legislators for not changing the laws in North Carolina. In short, cannabis really is medicine. It really is safe. The laws against cannabis are much more harmful than the plant can be. An exponentially growing majority of citizens is in favor of changing the laws.

The number of people against cannabis legalization in some form is small and shrinking. However, those in power are largely ignorant of what is documented about the plant’s safety and efficacy. The following research and statistics touch lightly on the 20,000+ cannabis studies available on PubMed, and represents the totality of what has been discovered about the plant.

We ask that everyone make an honest effort to keep an open mind and be willing to accept that some of the things you and your family thought you knew about the cannabis plant, just aren’t true.

INCLUDED ON THIS PAGE:
1. Cannabis Really is Medicine…
Cancer – Cannabis has been seen to kill cancer in lab experiments
Multiple Sclerosis – National MS Society Acknowledges the benefits of cannabis
Diabetes – Cannabis Regulates Blood Sugar Levels
Pain – Cannabis is more effective than prescription pain medication

2. Cannabis is safe to ingest…
ZERO Deaths from Cannabis – Ever
Cannabis is rarely associated with addiction
Marijuana is not a gateway drug

3. The anti-marijuana laws are more harmful than the plant itself…
National and North Carolina Arrests
National and North Carolina Usage

4. Support Continues to Grow for Cannabis in the U.S. and North Carolina…
Americans Say It Is Time to Legalize Cannabis
North Carolina Support for Medical Marijuana Rises Each Year
Doctors are in favor of Medical Marijuana Laws Nationally

Opiate Overdose Deathrates Decrease by 24% in Medical Marijuana States

 

1. Cannabis Really is Medicine…

Cancer – Cannabis has been seen to kill cancer in lab experiments
A publication from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, revised as of April 2015, states that “recent animal studies have shown that marijuana can kill certain cancer cells and reduce the size of others. Evidence from one animal study suggests that extracts from whole-plant marijuana can shrink one of the most serious types of brain tumors. Research in mice showed that these extracts, when used with radiation, increased the cancer-killing effects of the radiation.”

The National Cancer Institute – the US Government’s arm of cancer research – also acknowledges that marijuana has cancer cell killing properties.

Multiple Sclerosis – National MS Society Acknowledges the benefits of cannabis
“An increasing number of studies suggest that derivatives of marijuana such as oral cannabis extract, sprays and pills may lessen patient reported MS symptoms like spasticity, pain related to spasticity, and frequent urination…Research suggests that cannabinoids (marijuana derivatives) have potential for the management of MS symptoms such as pain and spasticity, and even protecting the nervous system, though further research is required to determine what that potential might be.” [Source: National Multiple Sclerosis Society]

Diabetes – Cannabis Regulates Blood Sugar Levels
A recent study published in the American Journal of Medicine found a significant association between people who ingest cannabis regularly and reduced fat around their midsection. Despite common side effects of increased appetites in cannabis users, three other studies found that marijuana users are less likely to be obese, have a lower risk for diabetes and have lower body-mass-index measurements. The lead author of the study, Murray Mittleman is an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School told Time magazine, “Current users of marijuana appeared to have better carbohydrate metabolism than nonusers. Their fasting insulin levels were lower, and they appeared to be less resistant to the insulin produced by their body to maintain a normal blood-sugar level.”

Pain – Cannabis is more effective than prescription pain medication
The National Pain Foundation surveyed 1,300 subjects regarding the effectiveness of various pain therapies. Of those who had tried cannabis, 62% said it was “very effective” for treating their condition and only 5% said it did “not work at all.” Cannabis is extremely useful compared to Cymbalta, Lyrica, and Savella which received a “very effective” rating by only 8%, 10%, and 10%, respectively. Of these same prescription painkillers, all rated higher than 60% as having no effect at all. Commenting on the survey results, Dr. Mark Ware (associate professor in family medicine and anesthesia at McGill University in Montreal) told the National Pain Report, “We desperately need someone to step up and explore this potential for the efficacy of cannabis.”

 

2. Cannabis is safe to ingest…

ZERO Deaths from Cannabis – Ever
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention compiles and lists all recorded deaths and their cause. Each year that this information is made available, cannabis is listed as a category with zero deaths attributed. No one has ever died from overdose or from chronic use.

See Table 10 in this CDC link: http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr64/nvsr64_02.pdf

Cannabis is rarely associated with addiction
Compared to tobacco and alcohol, it is rare for people who ingest cannabis meet the criteria for addiction. According to the Division of Neuroscience and Behavioral Health at the Institute of Medicine, 32% of people who try tobacco become addicted, 15% of people who try alcohol become addicted, and 9% of people who try marijuana become addicted. They concluded, “although few marijuana users develop dependence, some do. But they appear to be less likely to do so than users of other drugs (including alcohol and nicotine), and marijuana dependence appears to be less severe than dependence on other drugs.” [Source]

Equally notable are the results of the first federally funded study into the psychological effects of cannabis. The lead researcher Dr. Charles Tart notes, “Much nonsense has been promulgated in the past by narcotics agencies and medical groups about the addicting properties of marijuana. There is no evidence of addiction. Emphasis today is laid on the fact that marijuana produces a “psychological dependence.” This is a nonsensical use of the English language, for psychological dependence simply means that people tend to repeat enjoyable experiences.”

Marijuana is NOT a gateway drug
The Division of Neuroscience and Behavioral Health at the Institute of Medicine published a report titled Marijuana And Medicine. This report had the following to say (page 6)

“Because it is the most widely used illicit drug, marijuana is predictably the first illicit drug most people encounter. Not surprisingly, most users of other illicit drugs have used marijuana first. In fact, most drug users begin with alcohol and nicotine before marijuana—usually before they are of legal age. In the sense that marijuana use typically precedes rather than follows initiation of other illicit drug use, it is indeed a “gateway” drug. But because underage smoking and alcohol use typically precede marijuana use, marijuana is not the most common, and is rarely the first, “gateway” to illicit drug use. There is no conclusive evidence that the drug effects of marijuana are causally linked to the subsequent abuse of other illicit drugs.”

 

3. The anti-marijuana laws are more harmful than the plant itself…

National and North Carolina Arrests
The following is a list of statistics regarding cannabis and arrest rates. The drug war is an obvious failure. While the United States has doubled marijuana arrests in the last two decades, there has been no reduction in marijuana use.

By the numbers…
North Carolina arrests for marijuana (2012): 26,433
Arrests for marijuana offenses in the US (2012): 749,825
Marijuana possession arrests accounted for 88% of all arrests (658,231) and the remainder for sales and cultivation offenses.
Marijuana arrests, and the arrest rate, have increased considerably over the last two decades. The arrest rate in 2012 represents a 110% increase in the marijuana arrest rate since 1991.
Arrests for marijuana account for 48.3% of all drug arrests in the United States.

Sources: http://norml.org/pdf_files/JBG_Marijuana_in_the_States_2012.pdf

image_JimmyCarter_quote-penalties-against-drug-use-should-not-be-more-damaging-to-an-individual-than-the-use-of-the-drug-jimmy-carter-217141

National and North Carolina Usage
Americans who have used marijuana in the past year: 31.8 million (10.2% of population)
Americans who report having used marijuana in the past month: 18 million (5.6%)

Teenage use is dropping as more states have legalized marijuana.
In 2002 there were 3.9 million annual age 12 to 17 marijuana users. Since then the number of age 12 to 17 year old users has generally declined, with an estimate of 3.6 million in 2011 and 3.4 million in 2012.

Of the general population, 46% have tried marijuana in their lifetimes, and 10.2% have used it in the past year. Comparatively 7.2% of North Carolinians have admitted to ingesting cannabis the past year.

US Population (2012): 312.8 million
Annual marijuana use nationally (2012): 31,879,671
National annual usage: 10.2%

North Carolina Population (2012): 9.75million
Annual (admitted) marijuana use in North Carolina (2012): ~700,000
North Carolina annual usage: 7.2%

Sources:
http://norml.org/pdf_files/JBG_Marijuana_in_the_States_2012.pdf
http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=6376&page=95 (p. 92)

 

4. Support Continues to Grow for Cannabis in the U.S. and North Carolina…

Americans Say It Is Time to Legalize Cannabis
Over the years support for legalizing cannabis has grown consistently. These surveys also show that given enough time and accurate information, people tend to fall in support of legalizing. (The following charts are from the Pew Research Center)

Chart_Support Legal Marijuana Decades 4-14-2015

Chart_Supporters More Likely to Have Changed Their Minds 4-14-2015_02

Chart_Opponents to Legal Marijuana Reasons Given 4-14-2015_05

Chart_Many Supporters of Legalization Cite Marijuana’s Health Benefits_4-14-2015_03

North Carolina Support for Medical Marijuana Rises Each Year
In 2015, a Public Policy Polling survey found 70% of North Carolinians wanted laws giving doctors the right to prescribe marijuana. In 2014 there were 63% in support, and the survey conducted in 2013 showed 58% were in favor of giving doctors and patients this right. This trend suggests that over time, as people become more educated about cannabis, they tend to feel the benefits of the plant outweigh its risks and that laws do more harm than good.

Doctors are in favor of Medical Marijuana Laws Nationally
According to a recent WebMD survey a majority of doctors want the right to prescribe marijuana. The survey revealed strong support for marijuana to be added to the general pharmacopeia:

  • 69% of doctors say marijuana is indeed effective treatment for certain conditions
  • 67% say the plant should be a medical option for patients
  • 56% support making marijuana legal nationwide

 

Opiate Overdose Deathrates Decrease by 24% in Medical Marijuana States
Access to medical cannabis is associated with 24 percent fewer prescription drug overdose deaths each year compared to states where marijuana is illegal, according to findings published in JAMA Internal Medicine. States that pass medical marijuana laws see their overdose death rates decrease dramatically in the years immediately afterward. According to a University of Pennsylvania study “the relationship between lower opioid overdose deaths and medical marijuana laws strengthened over time; deaths were nearly 20 percent lower in the first year after a state’s law was implemented, and 33.7 percent lower five years after implementation.”

Source: http://www.uphs.upenn.edu/news/News_Releases/2014/08/bachhuber/

 

NORML of North Carolina has made every attempt to open a rational dialogue with the North Carolina General Assembly – the state’s legislative branch. The citizens are increasingly in favor of laws, and a very strong majority are supportive of marijuana legalization. Science has shown this plant is both safe and effective. While legislators hide behind claims that not enough research has been performed, the 21,000 studies regarding the effects of cannabis say otherwise. (Source: PubMed)

If you do not agree with the cannabis laws in North Carolina, we ask that you do your part to change them. Please arm yourself with the facts, contact your legislators if you haven’t already, and actively participate in a statewide conversation about the benefits of legalizing cannabis today.

NC NORML is the grassroots mouthpiece for the 700,000 North Carolinians and civil disobedients who already ingest cannabis regularly and the many more patients who could benefit from the plant if they were provided safe, regulated access by the lawmakers.

image_CarlSagan_quote-the-illegality-of-cannabis-is-outrageous-an-impediment-to-full-utilization-of-a-drug-which-helps-carl-sagan-263889

One thought on “Why This Matters

  1. I have bad epilepsy. 2 brain surgerys at Duke last year. Duke’s Nero teams talked me into smoking cannabis it helps w my seizures. Stop wasting taxpayer money by stealing it w jail time court cost an attorney fees maybe we need to replace the folks in Raliegh.

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