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Government and Politics

Medical marijuana bill not likely to pass
Ballot issue may find more support

Jo Ingles
A recent poll says 73 percent of Ohioans are in favor of legalizing medical marijuana
Courtesy of United States Fish and Wildlife Service
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Some Ohioans are trying to gather enough signatures to put an issue on the statewide ballot next fall that would allow the use of medical marijuana in Ohio. But at least one Ohio lawmaker does not think they should have to do that.


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Democratic State Rep. Bob Hagan is no Johnny-come-lately when it comes to medical marijuana. He has been pushing bills for years now that would allow Ohioans to use cannabis under medical supervision and he is back at it again. 

He’s proposing a plan in the legislature that would allow Ohioans to use it under a doctor’s care and it would allow Ohio farmers to grow hemp. Hagan says he thinks most Ohioans agree the time has come for the change.

“Just this month, FOX News published the results of a nationwide poll that shows an overwhelming majority of registered voters, 85 percent, agree adults should be allowed to use cannabis for therapeutic purposes if a physician authorizes it," Hagan says. "Those numbers also carry out in Ohio where a recent Ohio poll said 73 percent of adults favor allowing medical marijuana.”

Medicinal Uses
Hagan’s bill is not likely to go anywhere at this point and he knows it. So he is also backing the group that wants to put the issue on the ballot. John Pardee is the president of that group.

“Our citizens are telling us they can’t wait," Pardee says. "They need relief and they need it now.”

There are people who find cannabis relieves pain, nausea, and seizures associated with certain illnesses and in some 20 other states, they can use medical marijuana, under certain circumstances, with a prescription from a doctor. 

Don Wirtshafter is the attorney for the group that wants to put the issue on the ballot. He says it is a shame that a ballot issue, which will take time and money, appears to be necessary to allow prescription cannabis use in Ohio, but he says THC, the active ingredient in the herb, is on the federal schedule of controlled substances. 

“The problem is when they put a natural substance on that schedule because it takes about $100 million worth of research to get a substance off the schedule of controlled substances," Wirtshafter says. "A natural product has no company willing to spend that money because since it can’t be patented, there’s no way to get that return on investment. Natural substances have no business being on the schedule of controlled substance and really the only way you are going to get a plant off the schedule of controlled substances is politics. It was politics that put it on the schedule of controlled substances. It’s politics that has to take it off.”

Staunch opposition
Hagan is correct in his assessment that there is still staunch opposition by fellow state lawmakers to the idea of allowing medical marijuana in Ohio. Republican State Rep. Lynn Wachtmann says he’s not for Hagan’s bill or even a possible ballot issue.

“I think we are seeing a lot of information coming from other states – Michigan, which I am most familiar with, that really does show that, at least the way they did it in Michigan, that marijuana is filtering into society, causing a lot of other problems,” Wachtmann says.

Most major law enforcement groups also remain opposed to the idea of allowing medical marijuana in Ohio. If medical marijuana is to be allowed in Ohio at some point in the future, Ohio voters may have to be the ones to make that change and before they can weigh in on the issue, backers of the plan will need to collect 385,000 valid signatures to put the issue on the ballot. They hope to get enough signatures in the next 13 months to put the issue on the ballot in the fall of 2014.

Listener Comments:

I don't smoke it but have long ago and feel it was better than things others were doing id vote yes for it I feel it helps fight some types of cancer and is much safer than legal products used buy most,,therefore im voting yes.

Posted by: tony (niles) on May 31, 2013 12:05PM
I do not agree with this article. There are many natural substances on the Federal Controlled substance list.
Morphine is schedule II and opium is schedule 5 ,3,and. 2.
THC is already legal. The drug company named it
"Dronabinol" , and the trade name is Marinol.
I think it is made by Eli Lilly

Posted by: Jerry (Akron) on May 30, 2013 12:05PM
If cannabis is altered into something such as hash or butter, it is supposedly a felony to have it in your possession. So I ask why is it ok for Big Pharm to alter it and put it on the market as Marinol?

Makes no sense.

Cannanbis does not need to be altered , in its natural state it is useful, medically. It is especially useful to those suffering from mental illness (anxiety , bipolar). Many people are so uncomfortable with prescribed medication because of the serious side effects and extreme mood alterations ..... cannabis is the natural way to go.

Each cannabis "strain" offers different medical properties. It is quite interesting and if you don't know, you should educate yourself immediately on this subject. Cannabis was legal at one point and The Declaration of Independence was written on Hemp paper...also there are zero deaths to date attributed to the use of Marijuana. Aspirin, Caffeine, alcohol and obesity kill more people in one year than cannabis has ever killed.....ever..... EVER. Open your eyes! Tobacco is poison, Alcohol is poison! They are legal! It doesn't make any sense!

I vote yes !

Posted by: Anonymous (Youngstown) on May 30, 2013 2:05AM
So from what I gathered by the article is that the nay-sayers say because it cant be patented by drug companies its bad?

Posted by: Adam (Struthers,OH) on May 29, 2013 11:05AM
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