On Tuesday, June 12th, Newberry County residents voting in the Democrat Primary will see a question on the ballot that reads: “Do you support passing a state law allowing doctors to prescribe medical marijuana to patients?” with a choice to respond either “yes” or “no”.
The answer that you select is critical for the future of our county and our state; for businesses and industries in our county; and for all the residents of Newberry County – especially for the future of our children and grandchildren, as the implications of this question are far-reaching and very serious. It’s important that you know the facts before answering the question.
The marijuana industry, a multi-billion dollar industry, is actively working in South Carolina to legalize “medical” marijuana. Opponents of the “medical” marijuana movement believe that the industry’s push in South Carolina is one more critical step in their journey for full legalization of recreational marijuana. And for all intents and purposes, as seen in other states that have adopted “medical” marijuana laws, the legalization of “medical” marijuana is in essence de facto legalization.
So what are some facts that you may want to consider in making your decision on how to respond?
1. There is no such thing as “medical” marijuana. Marijuana (cannabis) is NOT approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as medicine. Acetaminophen (Tylenol), Omeprazole (Prilosec), antibiotics, and other medicines, including both over the counter and prescription medicines are approved by the FDA and are regulated. This means there is accountability for prescribing, purchasing, and regulating the ingredients for these medicines.
The FDA has a sound and proven process to assess the safety and effectiveness of new drugs, and the requisite experts to make effective determinations in order to protect the public. Their long-recognized process has afforded American consumers with access to the safest and most advanced pharmaceuticals in the world.
The FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research is the nation’s main consumer watchdog. The Center is responsible for evaluating new drugs before they can be sold. According to the FDA’s website, their “evaluation not only prevents quackery, but also provides doctors and patients the information they need to use medicines wisely… FDA approval of a drug means that data on the drug’s effects have been reviewed (by the Center) and the drug is determined to provide benefits that outweigh its known and potential risks for the intended population.” Expert reviewers analyze the condition or illness for which the drug is intended and the risks and benefits of the drug.
With this information from the FDA in mind, a thoughtful and discerning person might ask themselves these questions:
• How many of your medicines are approved by legislators or a public vote instead of going through a medical review process by the FDA? ZERO!
• How many of your medicines do you smoke? ZERO!
• How many of your medicines come in unmeasured doses? ZERO!
• How many of your medicines have unknown strengths? ZERO!
• How many of your medicines are taken as often as the patient thinks it is needed? ZERO!
• How many other medicines that people take are used in crude form (like penicillin from bread mold, etc.)? ZERO!
• How many other medicines that people take circumvent the safety of the FDA? ZERO!
• How many other medicines that people take contain no warnings of harm? ZERO!
• How many other medicines that people take are purchased from a “dispensary” and not a pharmacy? ZERO!
• How many other medicines that people take are “recommended” by doctors and not prescribed? ZERO!
One exception to any of the questions above would be amazing, but ALL of them? Based on the answers to these questions, you can rightly conclude that marijuana is NOT medicine!
2. Doctors CANNOT prescribe marijuana/cannabis. There is no prescription, only a recommendation. There is no picking up a measured amount with dosing instructions from a pharmacy/pharmacist. Pharmacies are prohibited by federal law/regulations from carrying a Schedule I drug (such as heroin, LSD, marijuana, ecstasy). When your doctor writes a prescription for an antibiotic, for example, there is a dosage (such as 500 mg.); a frequency (take twice a day); and a duration (take until finished). With “medical” marijuana, there is no dosage nor is there control over the potency from one “supplier” to another. There is also no frequency. A “marijuana prescription” – which does NOT exist – appears to be a license to smoke weed.
3. Pot Shops or Dispensaries would come to Newberry County. If approved, “Pot Shops”/Dispensaries would come to Newberry County to sell marijuana in leaf form, as well as edibles to include marijuana-laced gummy bears, brownies, drinks, etc. Newberry County would NOT be able to disallow their presence. These dispensaries would also carry pipes, bongs, “one hitters”, and other drug paraphernalia. Images from Colorado and other states that permit “medical” marijuana dispensaries show that in some areas there are more marijuana dispensaries than there are McDonald’s restaurants and Starbucks! Think about whether you want your community to look like this, and think about what message it would send to the children and youth of Newberry County. In addition, to supply these establishments, marijuana will have to be grown and processed in South Carolina. In other states, marijuana “grow houses” have dramatically impacted property values.
4. “Medical Marijuana” would be under the regulation of S.C. DHEC. While over the counter and prescription drugs are regulated by the FDA, “medical” marijuana in South Carolina would be regulated by S.C. DHEC. DHEC does NOT currently regulate medications for the state.
5. There are currently FDA-approved medications available in South Carolina. There are currently FDA approved and regulated medications that contain various forms of marijuana that are already available in the state. CBD Oil has been approved on a limited basis and in conjunction with the Medical University of South Carolina for children suffering from certain diseases. It has not been approved for wider use. The FDA has approved Marinol and Syndros for therapeutic uses in the United States, including for the treatment of anorexia associated with weight loss in AIDS patients. Cesamet is another FDA approved drug. Also, true marijuana-based medicines are already in the FDA approval pipeline (Epidiolex, Sativex clinical trials). These medications can be accessed by those who need it through the FDA Expanded Access Program through a physician, though few take advantage of this avenue.
6. More research is needed. There is not enough research to know IF components of marijuana are effective as medicine. The S.C. General Assembly’s Budget Conference Committee is considering a budget proviso that would permit the additional research of “medical” marijuana as it relates to helping relieve symptoms of those with severe health issues. Further, the FDA believes that scientifically valid research is “the best way to determine what patients could benefit from the use of drugs derived by marijuana.” (FDA Website). Also, according to the FDA, “manufacturers may be able to make investigational drugs available to individual patients in certain circumstances through expanded access.” One company is currently making a drug product that contains cannabidiol; it is being developed for seizure disorders and may be available through expanded access.
7. The FDA also has concerns about administering a cannabis product to children. According to the FDA’s “Public Health Focus: FDA and Marijuana – Questions and Answers,” the FDA states, “We understand that parents are trying to find treatments for their children’s medical conditions. However, the use of untested drugs can have unpredictable and unintended consequences… It is important to conduct medical research into the safety and effectiveness of marijuana products through adequate and well-controlled clinical trials… The FDA works with companies to provide patients access to experimental therapies through enrollment in clinical trials or through the expanded access provisions described in the FDA’s statute and regulations.”
8. The majority of individuals receiving “recommendations” for “medical” marijuana in Arizona are NOT cancer patients or children with epilepsy. According to data from research conducted in Arizona, only about six percent of the recommendations written for “medical” marijuana are for terminally-ill cancer patients, children with epilepsy and those with PTSD. The majority of persons obtaining recommendations for “medical” marijuana are white males, ages 18–35, who say that they have “chronic pain.” (Arizona Governor’s Office)
Recent focus groups conducted with teens and young adults in Newberry County indicate that marijuana is easy to obtain. Many teens believe it is a safe alternative to alcohol. When asked why they believe this, they have said if other states have adopted “medical” marijuana laws and some have legalized recreational use, it must be a safe product. Check the facts! Marijuana is illegal, addictive, harmful to the body, especially developing brains. For additional facts and information regarding the risks and dangers of TODAY’s marijuana, go to www.TheBluntTruthSC.com.
On Tuesday, June 12, the vote will be up to you. I hope the information presented in this letter can help you make an informed decision, whichever way you vote.
Terecia Wilson is a member of the Blunt Truth S.C. Task Force.