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Group touts marijuana's medical benefits

A group that advocates using marijuana for medical purposes is scheduled to be in town Thursday to educate the public and seek support.

Members from the Coalition Advocating Medical Marijuana will be on Courthouse Square from noon to 2 p.m. They will show an educational display and seek signatures on a petition they need to amend Florida's Constitution to allow marijuana use for medical reasons.

That amendment would allow licensed physicians to prescribe marijuana to patients who suffer from a specified medical condition, such as AIDS, multiple sclerosis, glaucoma, arthritis and cancer.

The amendment also would give patients the legal right to use the drug in those medical settings.

The coalition is an alliance of professional groups and citizens "who believe that marijuana is medicine, and that people who use this medicine should not be treated as common street criminals," according to a news release.

Critics have fought against the move to legalize marijuana, even in specified medical cases. The coalition, in response, says the current law improperly stops doctors from helping patients who simply seek relief from pain.

Overeaters Anonymous

chapter sets meeting

The local chapter of Overeaters Anonymous meets at 7 p.m Tuesdays at First Baptist Church, 123 S Seminole Ave., Inverness; and at 1 p.m. Thursdays at Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church, 6 Roosevelt Blvd., Beverly Hills.

"We use the text of (Alcoholics Anonymous) and OA," said Betty, a group member who lives in Inverness. In keeping with its name, the group's members are anonymous. Betty is the group member's first name.

"It is a support group more or less. That's one of the basic tenets," she said. "Most people who have come to us have tried everything else. It's a desperate move because of their health more than anything.

Not everyone who attends is overweight. Members include people who suffer from eating disorders such as anorexia or bulimia.

"It's a matter of wanting to control something that is controlling you," Betty said. "It's a step-by-step program. We suggest people come for at least six weeks.

The group provides support and encouragement for all members.

"Anybody can belong. You bring to it what you have and you get from it what you need," Betty said.

For information, call 860-2759.

_ Jim Ross writes about medical issues in Citrus County. Reach him at 860-7302 or by e-mail at