Pubdate: Wed, 18 Feb 2004
Source: Press Journal (FL)
Copyright: 2004, The E.W. Scripps Co.
Author: Tonya Alanez, staff writer
Cited: Office of National Drug Control Policy ( )
Bookmark: (Cannabis)
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal)
Bookmark: (Decrim/Legalization)


INDIAN RIVER COUNTY -- "Marijuana is not medicine" and we need to keep it 
away from our children was the message delivered by a Washington anti-drug 
official at a lecture Tuesday.

Andrea G. Barthwell, from the White House Office of National Drug Control 
Policy, is deputy director for Demand Reduction, a youth drug prevention 
program. She introduced a "fact-based marijuana initiative" to a group of 
more than 100 at the Indian River Community College's Mueller campus.

Barthwell outlined the following five "marijuana myths:"

* It is harmless.

* It is not addictive.

* Youth experimentation is inevitable.

* We should legalize marijuana.

* Prisons are filled with marijuana users.

"The legalizers are back and they're trying to convince Americans that 
smoked marijuana is a medicine and you can use drugs responsively," 
Barthwell said at the lecture sponsored by the Substance Abuse Council of 
Indian River County.

Since 1996 eight states, including Arizona, Alaska, California, Maine and 
Oregon, have passed medical marijuana laws. Approval of medical marijuana 
has also been approved in Canada.

"The people that have this as an agenda are not concerned for the sick or 
dying," Barthwell said. "They are concerned about getting marijuana into 
the hands of more people for personal use."

Barthwell presented information that said marijuana acutely affects 
learning, attention and motor skills and lends to gaps in a user's "fund of 
knowledge." She said these are some of the reasons to be concerned about 
youth and marijuana use.

In her hour-long discussion, Barthwell advocated for student drug testing 
and increased parental involvement in the fight to keep kids off drugs.

"We know that people do more of that which is sanctioned and allowed than 
that which is prohibited," Barthwell said, citing statistics that showed 
marijuana use nearly tripled in the Netherlands since coffee shops began 
selling it.

"It is important to have a non-drug-using norm to prevent children from 
using marijuana," she said.

Sgt. Brad Fojtik of the Indian River County Sheriff's Office School 
Resource Team said, "It's nice for somebody to step up to the plate and say 
what we've been trying to preach to our kids. There is no medicinal value 
in (marijuana), period."
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