MOUNT VERNON -- About a dozen people, some of them in education or counseling, turned out in Mount Vernon Wednesday to hear Dr. Andrea Barthwell talk about the need to take marijuana seriously.
Barthwell has embarked on a lecture series presenting the dangers of marijuana use -- particularly in the face of Illinois House Bill 407, which would create the Illinois Medical Cannabis Act. Barthwell is the former deputy director for Demand Reduction from the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy -- otherwise known as the deputy drug czar.
The Illinois Medical Cannabis Act, sponsored by Rep. Larry McKeon, D-Chicago, would allow a person diagnosed with what the bill describes as a "debilitating medical condition" to be a card-carrying legal cannabis user. The sick person and that person's primary caregiver would be allowed to own up to 12 cannabis plants and two and a half ounces of "usable cannabis."
Matthew Atwood, Illinois Drug Education and Legislative Reform Executive Director, said Barthwell's lectures are filled with "disingenuous arguments."
"I don't think she has the research to back up her arguments," Atwood said. "She refuses to back up her claims with citations, and she continues to drive around the state with her disingenuous claims."
Barthwell said she will have her research citations available online within "a couple of weeks."