State News
6:22 am
Fri April 26, 2013

Group calls on Senate to reject use of medical marijuana

A group of addiction and drug specialists Thursday called on the Illinois Senate to reject the medical use of marijuana. IPR’S Brian Mackey has more. Opponents of "medical marijuana" don't even like that phrase.

"There's no such thing as 'medical marijuana,' there's only 'marijuana.' It can be used by people who have debilitating diseases, but that does not make it medicine."

Andrea Barthwell is a physician specializing in addiction medicine. She's also a former deputy national drug czar. Barthwell and her colleagues at the American Society of Addiction Medicine have two main problems with the proposal: it goes around longstanding federal regulations for approving medicine. And they say marijuana is dangerous.

"The marijuana today is 700 times more potent than it was in my youth. And with the decreased age of initiation, the combination of those two are giving us an experience with marijuana where young people are getting into trouble at rates that are greater than what we have ever seen in this country."

Backers of Illinois' medical marijuana proposal say it has tight controls -- patients would have to show they have one of 33 conditions and prove a legitimate doctor-patient relationship. The legislation already passed the House last week and is pending before the Senate.