By Marc Kovac
Opponents of medical marijuana were at the Statehouse Wednesday, urging lawmakers and residents to think twice before legalizing it 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.”
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 state Rep. Bob Hagan of Youngstown, D-58th. “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 was a 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.”