North Carolina lawmakers are considering Senate Bill 711, also known as the Compassionate Care Act, which would legalize Medical Cannabis in that state.
They invited Utah Therapeutic Health Center’s Tim Pickett to a Senate Judiciary Committee meeting in August. At the meeting, Tim spoke to senators about the importance of Medical Cannabis in our community.
“I’m here today to report that both the medical data and my experience in cannabis medicine is that marijuana is safe. Patients can use it to feel better, sleep better, get by better. They can do this without getting high, and they can do this without having to smoke it,” Pickett told NC senators in a three-minute speech on August 18, 2021.
Nine guest speakers, including Tim, spoke to senators about their reasons for or against a Medical Cannabis program in North Carolina. Unfortunately, the three-minute time limit made it impossible for Tim to deliver the full breadth of his speech. However, you can read the full speech below.
My name is Tim Pickett. I’m a practicing physician assistant in Utah and founder of cannabis-specialty clinic, Utah Therapeutic Health Center, and the education center, utahmarijuana.org. I also continue to work part time in the Emergency Department of my local hospital. Medical Cannabis is not only my profession, It’s changed the lives of two of my immediate family members as well as my best friend — not to mention countless other friends and acquaintances.
In 2019, 70,630 people died of drug overdose. 70% of those deaths, 49,860 people, were opioid-related. 9,711 of those deaths involved benzodiazepines.
In 2019, not one person died of cannabis overdose in the United States.
Research on the effect of cannabis accessibility on opioid deaths provides evidence that states with access to Medical Cannabis experience reduced opioid deaths – by up to 25%. In fact, 73% of patients seen in my clinics use fewer other medications, including alcohol. Ironically, cannabis has been called a gateway drug for years. We now know that taking opioids, benzos, and sleeping pills is more likely than marijuana to lead to dependency, addiction, and the use of street drugs like heroine. Medical Marijuana is not a gateway drug, it is an exit drug.
Day in and day out, people come to our clinics looking for hope. They walk through the door, searching (sometimes for years beforehand) for something to help their condition. My youngest patient is 18 months old, managing a seizure disorder with his neurologist. My oldest patient is 98 years old, on hospice care and finding relief in their final days. I have a patient who eliminated the need for 15 prescription drugs. I have an IT professional employed with a University who is able to function and get back to work with severe PTSD from serving overseas. We have moms fighting breast cancer who are able to eat and enjoy their children or grandchildren during chemotherapy because of this medicine. These are not individuals living on the outskirts of society. These are the individuals who make up your communities.
Being born and raised in Utah, I understand and can speak to the barriers and stigma of cannabis use in a conservative culture, and I can understand why some involved in such a culture may still have doubts.
Here’s my experience: In Utah, most of the population identify as of the Mormon faith. Mormons are not permitted to drink or smoke. However, they have been allowed to participate in the program “if deemed medically necessary by a provider.” In doing this, leaders of this conservative religion have chosen to see cannabis as what it is: medicine, encouraging an acceptance that can change the stigma.
We all want our loved ones and our patients to feel better, safely. I am here today to report that both the medical data and my experience treating thousands of patients is that Medical Marijuana is safe, patients can use it to feel better, sleep better, eat better, and get by better. They can do this without getting high and they can do this without having to smoke it.
By giving the residents of North Carolina safe access to Medical Cannabis, you are allowing medical providers, like myself, to start treating medical cannabis as the legitimate medicine it is and incorporating it into our toolbox of therapies. YOU have the unique opportunity today to help the people of NC legitimize cannabis as medicine in this great state. I urge you to seize that opportunity.