Ohio Medical Marijuana Initiative (2013)

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An Ohio Medical Marijuana Initiative may appear on the the November 2013 ballot in the state of Ohio as an initiated constitutional amendment. The measure would legalize the use of marijuana for medical purposes in the state.

Background

There were rumors that Peter Lewis, chairman of Progressive Insurance, would introduce a measure, but none were filed with the Ohio Attorney General's office.[1]

According to an e-mail from Lewis's attorney, proposals that he was looking for would “describe a clear plan to meet two goals: pass a voter initiative to legalize medical marijuana in Ohio and design, execute and document the campaign in order to create a model for future campaigns in other states.”[2] As of September 2011, Lewis was not known to be involved with either of the current initiatives.[3]

Ohio Medical Cannabis Act

One ballot initiative in the state is backed by what organizers said was a "core group of patients" advocating for the use of medical marijuana. The 2012 proposal was known as The Ohio Medical Cannabis Act of 2012.

Under the act, a regulatory system modeled after the Ohio State Liquor Control system would be established. An Ohio Commission of Cannabis Control would also be implemented. Doctor's prescription would be needed to buy the drug, and it would be taxed.[4]

Ohio Alternative Treatment Amendment

Another, more restrictive amendment, is known as the Ohio Alternative Treatment Amendment. It would leave enforcement up to local jurisdictions.[3]

Support

  • According to state resident Cynthia Wynia, marijuana has helped her with her medical issues in the past, stating, "I couldn't sleep. I couldn't stand. I couldn't sit. There's no position you can place yourself in where you're comfortable...A friend of mine offered me some marijuana...It took me a while to realize it. I was getting up and down. I was going up stairs. I was moving around -- dancing. It didn't hurt. I said 'I do not hurt'."[5]

Opposition

Opponents

  • Drug Free Action Alliance
  • Community Anti Drug Coalitions of America
  • Alcohol and Drug Prevention Association of Ohio[6]

Arguments

  • Montgomery County Sheriff Phil Plummer claimed that the measure "would make too much marijuana available to kids in the community." He also stated a concern with driving under the influence of the drug.[7]
  • Marcie Seidel, executive director of Drug-Free Action Alliance, stated, "It's an ever-changing drug, and it's not really a benign drug. It's a drug that we need to look at very carefully that causes a lot of harm to our society. I don't know of any other drug in our repertoire of medications where you take it and you know only what it might do, but you have no idea what the side effects are."[5] Seidel also argues that the initiative supporters' real goal is the full legalization of the drug and that medical marijuana measures are only a "charade."[6]
  • Sue Thau, of the Community Anti Drug Coalitions of America, claimed that using hurts future employment opportunities. She said, "[We want] Ohioans to be smarter and more competitive, not stupider and less competitive. I don't think Ohio can afford to have more and more and more kids that really are not going to show up for work, not be employable, not be able to graduate from college."[6]

Path to the ballot

See also: Ohio signature requirements

Since the measures were filed as an initiated constitutional amendment, the petition drive efforts need to collect 385,247 signatures in order to have placed the referendum on the ballot. An initial 1,000 signatures and approval by the Ohio Attorney General are required prior to initiating petition circulation efforts.

2012 attempt

Rejections

The Ohio Alternative Treatment Amendment was initially rejected by the Ohio Attorney General, as Mike DeWine stated that the measure's supporters did not collect the required amount of initial signatures to be approved for circulation. 1,000 signatures are needed for that approval, however only 534 signatures were valid.[8]

According to spokeswoman for the group, Theresa Daniello, at the time: “We are very, very confident in our signatures, and we’ve validated them to make sure they are successful."[9]

Approval of Ohio Alternative Treatment Amendment

The Ohio Ballot Board approved the "Ohio Alternative Treatment Amendment" during the week of October 25, 2011, giving supporters the go-ahead to collect signatures for ballot access. The measure did not make the ballot, as the Ohio Secretary of State's office reported only one measure filing signatures by the deadline.[10][11]

Approval of Ohio Medical Cannabis Act

On January 25, 2012, the Ohio Ballot Board approved the second amendment, which was the "Ohio Cannibis Act of 2012". According to the board, the amendment consisted of one issue, thus allowing it to move forward with signature collection for ballot access. The measure did not make the ballot for 2012[12]

2013 attempt

Since signatures do not expire in Ohio, both campaigns have announced that they are continuing to collect in an effort to place on the 2013 ballot.[13][14]

See also

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References