Pubdate: Thu, 01 Aug 2013
Source: Review, The (Alliance, OH)
Copyright: 2013 Alliance Publishing Co, LLC.
Author: Mark Kovac, Review Capitol Bureau
Bookmark: (Marijuana - Medicinal - Ohio)


COLUMBUS -- Opponents of medical marijuana were at the Statehouse 
Wednesday, urging lawmakers and residents to think twice before 
legalizing the drug for therapeutic purposes.

The group included a former appointee of President George W. Bush, 
who called marijuana "unstable" and "unpredictable."

"Marijuana is unreliable," said Andrea Barthwell, former deputy 
director of the U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy. "It's 
full of contaminants -- bird droppings, animal carcasses. And it 
exposes the sick and dying to a number of potential problems that can 
worsen their condition."

She added, "We undermine, rather than undergirding, our prevention 
principles as we move across the country legalizing marijuana as 
medicine for sick and seriously ill individuals."

But a state lawmaker who is backing efforts to place the issue before 
voters and who has introduced separate legislation to legalize 
medical marijuana use called such comments "off base."

"I think they're wrong headed," said Rep. Bob Hagan, D-Youngstown. "I 
think they're standing in the way (of people) who want extra 
medicinal help (for) chronic disease and chronic pain."

Opponents Wednesday were voicing concern about several ballot 
initiatives that would allow marijuana use for medical purposes. The 
latest petition effort was unveiled in May, and supporters hope to 
gain enough signatures to place the measure before voters in November 2014.

Barthwell and others said legalization is a bad idea and would allow 
widespread use of a drug that is unregulated and that "does not meet 
any of the tests of modern medicine."

Barthwell, who also co-wrote the American Society of Addiction 
Medicine's position paper on medical marijuana, said there's a need 
for more research and testing of the molecular components of 
marijuana for use medicinally.

"The most (comparable research) that we have seen thus far is the 
anecdotal finding that marijuana gives people the munchies," she said.

The heads of drug treatment centers in central and southeastern Ohio 
said people addicted to heroin and other drugs often start out using marijuana.

"I just can't understand why the people of Ohio would want to 
legalize one more dangerous addictive drug...," said Peter Rogers, a 
pediatrician who heads the Southern Ohio Opiate Treatment Program. 
"I've seen the devastation of marijuana use in adolescents firsthand 
for so many years."

But Hagan countered that there is little proof that marijuana is 
addictive or a gateway drug to stronger narcotics.

"Medical marijuana is a choice that has to be made between a doctor 
and a patient," he said.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom