As poll numbers show Ohioans are growing increasingly comfortable with the idea of marijuana use, a Youngstown Democrat wants to give people the chance to make the drug fully legal in Ohio.
Rep. Robert F. Hagan has made a few attempts over the years to persuade his colleagues to allow for the use of medical marijuana in Ohio, and each effort has died a quiet death. A spokesman for Speaker William G. Batchelder, R-Medina, declined to comment on the pair of proposals Hagan introduced yesterday.
One is a bill that would allow patients with certain chronic conditions such as cancer or sickle-cell anemia to use marijuana for treatment. Eighteen other states have approved similar measures.
“In addition to the studies that show marijuana to be a valuable treatment option for chronic pain, nausea and seizure disorders, I have heard countless stories of how cannabis has made a difference in the lives of people who are sick or dying,” Hagan said.
His other proposal, modeled after an amendment recently passed in Colorado, would ask voters to approve allowing people 21 or older to purchase and use marijuana. The drug could be sold only by state-licensed establishments and would be subject to a 15 percent excise tax.
“With billions upon billions spent on the war on drugs with little progress to show for it, it is time for more-sensible drug policy in this country,” Hagan said, arguing that the revenue could help restore cuts to education and local governments.
It takes a three-fifths vote for the legislature to put an issue on the ballot.
A recent Saperstein Associates poll of more than 1,000 Ohioans for The Dispatch found that legalizing medical marijuana was overwhelmingly favored, 63 percent to 37 percent, but making pot completely legal was opposed by a 21-point margin.
Martin D. Saperstein, head of the Columbus polling firm, noted that surveys in other states are finding growing acceptance of legalizing marijuana, especially if it would be regulated and taxed.
The Ohio Ballot Board last year approved language for two medical-marijuana issues, though neither appears likely to collect the 385,000 signatures needed to qualify for the November ballot. One group has reorganized, calling itself OhioRights.org, and plans to submit a new petition that will include legalized growing of hemp, a plant related to marijuana.
Source: Columbus Dispatch (OH)
Author: Jim Siegel, The Columbus Dispatch
Published: Friday May 3, 2013
Copyright: 2013 The Columbus Dispatch