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Our View: Don’t legalize medical marijuana

Published: Thursday, April 25, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT

We remain opposed to the legalization of medical marijuana in the state of Illinois.

While we acknowledge that marijuana use has some medical benefits, we feel strongly that any benefits are outweighed by other problems legalization could create.

We were disappointed that three of McHenry County’s five state representatives voted last week in favor of a House bill that would allow doctors to prescribe marijuana to patients with certain medical conditions.

Reps. Barbara Wheeler, R-Crystal Lake; Michael Tryon, R-Crystal Lake; and Jack Franks, D-Marengo, sided with the majority to help pass the bill, 61-57. Sixty votes were needed to send the bill to the Senate, so had two of these three voted against it, the measure would have failed. Reps. David McSweeney, R-Barrington Hills, and Timothy Schmitz, R-Batavia, voted against it.

Legalizing marijuana for medical purposes opens the door for total acceptance. Colorado and Washington already have legalized the drug for recreational use.

Legalization increases the chances of the drug falling into the hands of children and others who don’t need it for medical reasons. It has been abused in other states and also sends a message to children that marijuana use is OK.

Smoking marijuana regularly can cause serious health problems. It can damage brain cells and cells in bronchial passages, which can hurt a person’s immune system. There is not enough data to conclusively show what the long-term health effects of regular marijuana use are.

Also, marijuana users who drive are impaired, increasing the chances of serious automobile accidents similar to drunken driving-related accidents.

The bill now goes to the state Senate for debate.

We urge the Senate to defeat this bill.

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