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Wednesday February 10th, 2016 5:52AM

Citizens hear from experts at marijuana forum

By Brian Stewart Reporter
GAINESVILLE - About 45 people attended a forum on marijuana at Northeast Georgia Medical Center Thursday evening.<br /> <br /> Sue Rusche, President and CEO of National Families in Action, led off the event with a presentation about the FDA's drug approval process and a request for people to start referring to potential drugs by a different name, other than "medical marijuana."<br /> <br /> She also cautioned the crowd about legalizing the drug for recreational use.<br /> <br /> "Availability drives use," she said, indicating that the more readily available a drug is, the more it will get used, citing tobacco and alcohol as examples.<br /> <br /> According to stats Rusche provided, 17.2% of Hall County 12th graders in 2013 reported using marijuana within the last 30 days of taking the survey.<br /> <br /> Senator Butch Miller of Gainesville introduced Sgt. Chris Clark with the Atlanta Police Department.<br /> <br /> Clark had to move his wife and son, the latter of whom suffered from more than 200 seizures per day, to Colorado Springs, CO to get the therapeutic hemp, which he says has been the only effective treatment for his son, who had undergone brain surgery in a vain attempt to cure his seizures.<br /> <br /> He spoke about the benefits of the medication, and assured the crowd that it has no psycho-active effects on the brain.<br /> <br /> "It only has 0.3% THC, so it isn't going to get your kids high," said Clark, referring to tetrahydrocannabinol, the psycho-active substance found in cannibis.<br /> <br /> Kari Murphy is a student at the University of North Georgia, and says she attended the forum so she could simply learn more about marijuana in general, and perhaps make a more informed decision in the voting booth.<br /> <br /> "Sgt. Clark really opened my eyes to possibility of the [therapeutic hemp] being beneficial to the children, and I would be okay with it, if it was used solely for that reason," said Murphy, who added that she does not favor the legalization of marijuana for recreational use.<br /> <br /> Linda Wagner is Director/Owner of Absolute Treatment Solutions, a rehab facility in Oakwood.<br /> <br /> "I'm in support of the oil, but I want the [proposed] legislation to be air-tight," said Wagner.<br /> <br /> She says that in her experience, she's found that marijuana is a gateway drug, often leading to prescription drug abuse.<br /> <br /> "[Marijuana] leads to low motivation, and a lot of high school dropouts," said Wagner.<br /> <br /> She added that while she's now in favor of the therapeutic hemp, she would not be in favor of marijuana for chronic pain patients.<br /> <br /> The event was put on by the Drug Free Coalition of Hall County.
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