By Joe Lewis - Staff Writer
Nov. 27, 2013 — The Carter County Drug Free Coalition (CCDFC) met last Wednesday for a minitraining on medicinal marijuana and how it is commonly abused.
Research presented at the meeting showed recent legalization of marijuana for medicinal and recreational use in other states has highly increased the drug’s exposure, especially to youth.
The fact that Kentucky has been a top five domestic marijuana producer for the last five years, coupled with decreased awareness of marijuana’s side effects, has created an environment where use is on the rise in the state.
“Recreational marijuana is being passed off as medicine, so kids don’t think there are any risks associated with using it,” said Amy Jeffers, director of the Pathways Regional Prevention Center.
While medicinal marijuana does have legitimate uses, especially for glaucoma and latestate cancer patients, it must be prescribed by a physician and is typically given in pill form rather than smoked.
“There has never been a legitimate medication prescribed that you smoke,” said Jeffers.
According to the CCDFC, recently proposed legislation in Frankfort would legalize the cultivation, distribution, sale and possession of marijuana for medicinal purposes.
It would allow users to possess up to five ounces of marijuana (the equivalent of 300 joints) and cultivate up to five plants for their own use.
Additionally, there would be no restrictions on the types of medical conditions necessary to obtain a prescription, and there would be no age requirements -- allowing minors to potentially qualify for use.
CCDFC fears that labeling smoked marijuana as medicine will create the illusion that it is safe, which means more persons will begin trying the drug at an early age.
To combat this possibility, CCDFC and its partner organizations plan to increase awareness of marijuana’s side effects, which they say include a decrease in overall IQ, heightened anxiety, increased risk of schizophrenia, respiratory damage and increased risk of cancer.
For more information on medicinal marijuana, contact Shelly Steiner at (606) 329- 8588.
CCDFC will meet at noon on Wednesday, Jan. 9, at Gregoryville Christian Church.