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posted: 5/17/2013 9:27 PM

Weighing in on medical marijuana

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Stephanie Willis, certified alcohol and drug counselor based in Naperville: "Addiction therapists have been concerned about the changes that are happening with marijuana laws. I do think there's more of a grass-roots momentum, predominantly by families who have experienced drug abuse, to have more monitoring and standards in the use of medical marijuana. As treatment providers we see what's going down on the streets and that's more concerning for us. So we look at this as how do we keep our youth and emerging adult population informed about substance abuse beginnings and where it can lead, and the role that cannabis plays in that process."

Geneva Police Cmdr. Julie Nash: "Obviously it's something we're going to have to make ourselves aware of and the particulars of the bill and law. Our job is to enforce the law as it is written. This is something we, the state police chiefs association and other law enforcement groups have been keeping an eye on. It's something we've been following and waiting for the state to decide."

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Dr. Howard Axe, president of the Chicago Medical Society: "The Chicago Medical Society doesn't have a formal opinion on medical marijuana. Our position would default to the state society, and the state society is neutral. There is some data that there are beneficial uses for medical marijuana in certain segments of the population, but there is also some concern about its use in certain age groups. Right now it's classified as a schedule one substance by the federal government, which means it has no medicinal benefit. The American Medical Association and American College of Physicians are asking to reclassify it so there can be more research on who and how and what, if anybody, should have access to medical marijuana. It's trapped in bureaucracy. The federal government opposes it and the states have starting passing it so then you get into whose legal rights trump whose."

Julie Falco, of Chicago, suffers from multiple sclerosis: "For patients this is huge. This is peace of mind, bottom line. There is something that I can take that alleviates my pain and not feel like a criminal and not be a target. It's long overdue. For me, it provides a better quality of life. Everything, the pain, calms down to where everything is at a functional level. In 2004, I was on so many pharmaceutical medications that caused depression that I wanted to take my own life. It wasn't until I started eating cannabis that I found beneficial effects in that first week and since 2007 I've only been on cannabis to treat my pain."

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