opponents of the plan speak up in Columbus
Ohioans could vote on a ballot issue that would legalize medical marijuana in the state, but opponents are cautioning that would be a bad idea.
"There is no instance where marijuana is superior to anything that is currently on the market," said Dr. Andrea Barthwell, a former deputy director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy. "There is no need for it. There is no room for it. There is no place for it in the physicians' toolbox."
She claims there is not enough good medical research to show that marijuana has any positive effect except "an anecdotal finding that marijuana gives people the munchies."
Barthwell worries that, if it is legalized in Ohio, we will see the drug become more easily available, especially to teens and children. She also argues that medical marijuana would set modern medicine back by over a century because it would open the door to letting ballot issues and lawmakers, not science and medical experts, determine what medicine should be on the market.
"Marijuana without question is the gateway drug for the vast majority of our patients at Maryhaven," said Paul Coleman, president and CEO of Maryhaven, a mental health and addiction treatment facility in Columbus.
Coleman says marijuana was a problem drug when the facility opened in 1953, and it still is today. At a Statehouse news conference, Coleman told the story of a client who explained the difference between drunk driving and drugged driving.
"With beer, you don't see the red light. With marijuana, you see the red light, and you don't care," he said.
Coleman also noted that, when California legalized medical marijuana, the number of dispensing stations in Los Angeles outnumbered Starbucks locations within months.
Dr. Peter Rogers, medical director of the Southern Ohio Opiate Treatment Program, says he has a harder time getting patients off addiction to marijuana than harder drugs like heroin.
Supporters of medical marijuana are gathering signatures to try and get the issue on the ballot in November 2014.