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Democrat Proposes Medical Marijuana Bill
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Some Ohioans are trying to gather enough signatures to put an issue on the statewide ballot, probably next fall, that would allow the use of medical marijuana in Ohio.
Now, one Ohio lawmaker is trying to speed up legalization.
Democratic State Rep. Bob Hagan isnâ€™t a Johnny-come-lately when it comes to medical marijuana. Heâ€™s been pushing bills for years now that would allow Ohioans to use cannibas under medical supervision.
And heâ€™s back at it again.
Heâ€™s proposing a plan in the legislature that would allow Ohioans to use it under a doctorâ€™s care and would allow Ohio farmers to grow hemp. And Hagan 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%, agree adults should be allowed to use cannibas for therapeutic purposes if a physician authorizes it. Those numbers also carry out in Ohio where a recent Ohio poll said 73% of adults favor allowing medical marijuana.
Haganâ€™s bill is not likely to go anywhere at this point and he knows it. So heâ€™s also backing the group that wants to put the issue on the ballot.
“Our citizens are telling us they canâ€™t wait. They need relief and they need it now,” says John Pardee, president of a group spearheading a signature-gathering effort to put a proposal before voters.
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 itâ€™s 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. “And a natural product has no company willing to spend that money because since it canâ€™t be patented, thereâ€™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. Itâ€™s politics that has to take it off.”
Hagan is correct in saying there’s still staunch opposition by fellow state lawmakers to the idea of allowing medical marijuana in Ohio. Republican State Representative Lynn Wachtman says heâ€™s not for Haganâ€™s bill, or a ballot issue that would accomplish the same goal.
“I think we are seeing a lot of information coming from other states â€“ 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,” Wachtman says.
Most major law enforcement groups also remain opposed to the idea of allowing medical marijuana in Ohio. It looks like, if medical marijuana is to be allowed in Ohio at some point in the future, Ohio voters will 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 thousand valid petition 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.