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Winnebago County Health Department issues warning over cannabis use

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ROCKFORD (WREX) — As excitement over recreational marijuana continues outside of Sunnyside continues Thursday, Winnebago County health experts are raising concerns.

There are many ailments customers at Sunnyside in Rockford say that are the reason they want to light up.

"I like using it for my concussions," a man in line said.

"I suffer from sciatica, it helps relieve the pain of sciatica," another man in line said.

These are just a few of the conditions bringing the crowds to wait hours outside of the Rockford dispensary.

But the Winnebago County Health Department is concerned the high levels of excitement over recreational cannabis may have high stakes.

The health department shared the below graphic in effort to warn people that the drug can be addictive, hurt your mental health and hurt your lungs.

The graphic states "No method is safe."

But according to the US Surgeon General and the health department's #FactCheck sheet on its website, the statement only applies to adolescents and pregnant women. The statement does not appear to apply to adult recreational cannabis consumers at large.

The health department would not schedule an in-person interview, but gave 13 WREX a statement saying quote:

"The Winnebago County Health Department developed this handout as part of a larger campaign to educate the public that substances that are legal are not without health risks. The first handout we did in this campaign was on vaping/e-cigarettes. This handout for marijuana was timely given the recent legalization. Other topics to be included in this campaign address messaging around alcohol, tobacco, and opioids. All of these substances are legal, but have health implications. The goal of these campaigns are (is) to provide the public with information on the health impacts when making a decision to use a substance."

Winnebago County Health Department

Jason Berkenstock with Sunnyside Dispensary says he disagrees with the pamphlet's information and says a doctor's approval is the best way to decide whether cannabis is right for you.

"We're always going to tell you we're not doctors, we're not official providers. So we are gonna also have you consult with your doctor," says Berkenstock. "But we're here to provide you with the medicine, the treatment you need. "

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Alexxis Kerry

Alexxis Kerry is a multimedia journalist at 13 WREX. She joined the team in 2019 as a Quintern.

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