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Coalition seeks to educate Hall County on marijuana
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After a House bill on medical marijuana sputtered in the Georgia General Assembly, the Hall County Drug Free Coalition is hosting a community forum to inform the public.

“The coalition is obviously not for people using it recreationally, and that’s not what the House bill was about,” said JP Banks, the coalition’s director. “The House bill was about using the one chemical from the marijuana plant for those people that have illnesses that it can help them with.”

Presenting at the Sept. 4 forum titled “Marijuana: Protecting Children and Understanding GA Law” will be National Families in Action co-founder, president and CEO Sue Rusche along with state Sen. Butch Miller, R-Gainesville. Miller worked to pass HB 885, a bill allowing for cannabis treatment for certain diseases, such as cancer or glaucoma.

The original bill passed the House and Senate, but amendments made during the process caused the bill to fail.

Outside of the medicinal realm of the drug, Rusche will also present information on potential health risks associated with marijuana use by adolescents, Banks said. Part of the presentation deals with the development of the adolescent brain when marijuana or other drugs are involved.

“She points those sorts of things out and makes it pretty clear that abusing drugs damages the adolescent brain,” Banks said.

During the 2012 election, Colorado and Washington offered ballot initiatives for recreational use of marijuana, with Washington’s law taking effect in July. Colorado opened its shops Jan. 1.

“In the states that have legalized it, there’s now a lot of the edibles being sold ... such as pot brownies, cookies or whatever the case may be,” Banks said.

Banks stresses the stance of the coalition against the abuse of any type of drug. While medical marijuana is being researched and may eventually be allowed in the state, he said showing the danger of children using illicit drugs is paramount.

“I think it’s about putting the facts out there, educating people and just letting them know,” Banks said.

The event will take place from 6-7:30 p.m. on Sept. 4 in Northeast Georgia Medical Center’s Walters Auditorium.

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