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Medical groups don’t back pot

In this Dec. 6 2012 file phoMichael Cardenas shows medical marijuanhe purchase outside ArizonOrganix first legal medical marijuandispensary open

In this Dec. 6, 2012 file photo Michael Cardenas shows medical marijuana he purchase outside Arizona Organix, the first legal medical marijuana dispensary to open in Glendale, Ariz. Supporters of medical marijuana in Minnesota say they plan to push for legalized medical marijuana in 2013 arguing that medical decisions should be left to doctors rather than police. Seventeen states, including Arizona, and the District of Columbia allow the use of marijuana for medical purposes, and Colorado and Washington recently legalized marijuana possession for adults with small amounts of the drug. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, File)

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Updated: January 29, 2013 6:22AM

The Rev. Al Sharp’s Saturday op-ed on why patients deserve medical marijuana flies in the face of science and the official opinions of the very associations that represent the patients identified. Marijuana is not medicine. The Food and Drug Administration decides what is safe and effective medicine and has determined marijuana is neither safe nor effective. The World Health Organization, American Society of Addiction Medicine and the National Institute on Drug Abuse all oppose making marijuana available as medicine. Mr. Sharp mentioned two patients with multiple sclerosis, but the Society for Multiple Sclerosis opposes marijuana as medicine, and so does the American Cancer Society. Marijuana has 60 percent more cancer-causing agents than a cigarette. The legislation proposed would extend far beyond a few thousand patients. It allows cardholders 2½ ounces — up to 285 joints every two weeks. It would allow anyone to drive after six hours of use, though marijuana stays in the body and the brain 50 times longer than alcohol. It would cause serious problems with Illinois Drug Free Workplace policy because it would not allow drug testing for fitness for duty. There is marijuana now available by prescription from a doctor, available at pharmacies, Marinol, which is marijuana in pill form.

The states that have implemented medical marijuana proposals have seen dramatic increases in abuse by teenagers. Less than 10 percent of those with marijuana cards in the largest populated states have serious illnesses such as cancer, MS or AIDS. The FDA has determined marijuana is not medicine. We should listen to them, not to anecdotes unsupported by science. We should protect our children and our state from teen use, addiction, highway and workplace safety problems and abuse in our schools and communities.

Peter Bensinger,

Former director, Illinois Department of
Corrections; former administrator of U.S. DEA

The real victims

In one of those tone-deaf comments we’ve come to expect from gun-rights advocates, Mark Westrom of the Armalite Corp. said, “This is one of those unfortunate situations where an irresponsible or sick individual has caused a huge problem for us.” Not nearly as unfortunate for them, one would think, as for the citizens of Newtown, Conn.

Thomas W. Evans, Mundelein

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