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Health and Medicine


Experts debate whether to legalize marijuana in Ohio
A well-funded ballot issue could be coming to Ohio soon
by WKSU's STATEHOUSE BUREAU CHIEF KAREN KASLER


Reporter
Karen Kasler
 
Two experts debated whether to legalize medical marijuana.
Courtesy of Brett Levin
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In The Region:

Medical marijuana did not make the ballot this year, with supporters falling well short of the signatures they needed to get it before voters. But the issue will be back soon.

Statehouse correspondent Karen Kasler moderated a debate today in Columbus between a passionate supporter of medical marijuana and a strong opponent.

LISTEN: KASLER ON MARIJUANA

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Robert Ryan of Cincinnati heads the Ohio chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, known as NORML. He is a cancer survivor who used marijuana during his treatment. And he says with the benefits that medical marijuana can offer, there is no reason is should not be legal, especially when alcohol is.

“There has not been one single person in recorded history who has died from marijuana," Ryan says. "It’s physiologically impossible. Not so with alcohol.”

Paul Coleman is the president and CEO of the Columbus rehab facility Maryhaven. He says 9 percent of those who use marijuana will become addicted. He says with that risk, plus the lack of studies showing marijuana’s effectiveness as a medical treatment, there’s no reason to take a chance on legalizing pot.

“Why in our society today, with all the challenges we face, would we want to legalize a second intoxicant, a second psychoactive drug?” Coleman says. 

The debate over leakage
Coleman obviously opposes legalizing marijuana for recreational use, but Ryan is not a big backer of that either, though NORML supports laws that allow for all kinds of personal use of pot. And they agree that if medical marijuana is legalized, people who are not qualified patients will get some of that pot. Coleman calls it “leakage."

“If it is legal for medical purposes, there will be leakage, not only in the community, but look at the states that surround those states with medical marijuana," Coleman says. "They are seeing it being brought in.”

But Ryan says the leakage is happening already, not just across state borders, but at the international borders, where there’s violence, crime and suffering.

“Marijuana is 60 percent of the drug cartel’s product," Ryan says. "I say legalize it, tax it, control it, have ID cards, and put the thugs out of business.”

Overwhelming support
A Quinnipiac poll in February showed 87 percent of Ohio voters support medical marijuana, and there are reports that a well-funded campaign is coming, modeled after the successful drive that casino backers made to the ballot. Interestingly, Ryan says the backers of this plan haven’t called on his group.

“I am not aware of any direct contact with NORML from this organization," Ryan says. "I have very tangential knowledge of what they’re proposing. I have quite some issues with it.”

Coleman said he and other opponents will continue to try to educate people if that issue does come to the ballot, and suggested that would-be voters be suspicious of a well-funded group pushing legalized pot.

“We can begin that by my asking all of you to do what I know you would do on any issue that is being well-funded for the ballot," Coleman says. "Ask yourself who is funding it and why.”

Organizers working on this plan say a ballot issue might be possible next year or in 2016.

Listener Comments:

let the kids smoke

bruh


Posted by: Wiz (The trap) on August 22, 2014 10:08AM
I hv a lot of back pain and past bk surgery and severe depression and anxiety which they put me on 3 different meds for. I am retired with the state of ohio and for yrs tk the psych meds. Which hv neg. side effects. I quit using the psych meds snd began using marijuana instead. It is safe the side effects are nothing compared to the meds. And when i quit taking the rx s i had to deal with with draws from them. I use marijuana in the evening not to get high but to relax and recoup at the end of the day in my home only. Just like s glass of wine some ppl choose to do. Or if i hv a tramaric moment i can take a cpl hits snd be calmed dwn instantly. There is no psych meds like that can help. Why not use something natural than a drug manmade. You do not hv with draws from marijuana. Those who say thst hv nvr tried it. Bf u knock it try it.
It is safer than alcohol dsnt cause ppl to be violent like alcohol dsnt cause health issues and even death like alcohol and alcohol is addicting. yet alcohol is legal. And man made.
Cigerettes i do smoke and they are legal VERY addicting. They even put a warning on the pack for your health yet they are legal. Causes many health problems and man made
Marijuana treats many health symptoms and even cures health issues such as asthma. Etc. its a herb that grows naturally for ppls needs.
yes they nd to place a law on it the same as alcohol dnt drive while on it or while wrking or use in public.
Ppl are threatened by marijuana and i dont understand why when it is beneficial to ppls health and can cure several ailments. Not to mention our countries debt cld be greatly reduced by taxing it.
So if it has so many beneficisl factors and less neg factors than items that are currently legal dsnt make any sense. Except the ppl refusing to accept it to be legal are those who hv nvr exp it themselves personally.
It is not a dangerous drug.
Why is a man made substance such as alcohol and cigarettes that kills ppl every yr and causes so much health issues and both are addicting still legal.
There are no healing ageants in either of them like there is in marijuana. Plus many tax dollars wld be saved on inmate exp for incarceration for it. It needs to be legalized and controled the same as alcohol.
If one of your family members hv cancer or cant eat and are starving to death then its ok for hotpitals to administer it as a drug. Yet its not ok for others to use it as their own natural ailments. There is no logic to it at all.


Posted by: Anonymous on August 12, 2014 12:08PM
I'm an Iraq war veteran and I know for a fact that medical marijuana will help my PTSD.. I can't stand taken these freaking pills mo more. I will not bow when there is a natural remedy.


Posted by: william morris (dayton) on August 12, 2014 10:08AM
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