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Published August 15, 2012, 08:40 AM

North Dakota health officer: Medical marijuana carries risks

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota's top health official and a supporter of medical marijuana are sparring about whether pot has health benefits.

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota's top health official and a supporter of medical marijuana are sparring about whether pot has health benefits.

Health officer Terry Dwelle says the federal Food and Drug Administration hasn't approved marijuana as a medicine.

Dwelle says there's increased heart attack risk for someone who smokes marijuana, and the smoke itself has cancer-causing elements.

Fargo state legislator Steve Zaiser is chairman of the North Dakota medical marijuana campaign.

He says there's plenty of medical literature about marijuana benefits for chemotherapy patients and people who suffer from lymphoma.

Zaiser says people don't have to smoke much marijuana to get pain relief, and it shouldn't be compared to cigarettes.

Secretary of State Al Jaeger is reviewing a medical marijuana ballot initiative. He'll decide later whether it goes on the ballot.

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