Group Backing Ohio Cannabis Rights Amendment Talks About What It Would Do In Ohio
Supporters of the push to put medical marijuana on the November ballot say they made progress on Tuesday at polling places, but would not give a specific number on how many petition signatures the group has verified and counted.
"There's still a good chance for 2014," said Mary Jane Borden from Ohio Rights Group. "There's still a strategic decision to be made. It's the year that makes sense for us to win that we're looking at."
Proponents will need around 385,000 valid signatures to qualify for the ballot.
Borden says it's a "sure thing" that the issue will be on either the 2014, '15 or '16 ballot.
"Voters will be asked to approve an amendment to the Ohio constitution that will permit the medical therapeutic and industrial uses of the cannabis plant," said Borden. "It would also permit the formation of an Ohio Commission of Cannabis Control to regulate the industry."
If certified for the ballot voters would decide if they want doctors to prescribe medical marijuana for a variety of ailments, including cancer, chronic pain, epilepsy and glaucoma.
The amendment also would allow Ohio farmers to produce and sell hemp for industrial use like paper, fuel, foods and clothing.
The Ohio Farm Bureau has not endorsed the proposed amendment and a spokesman told 10TV, "It is not very important to our members."
On the first two sections, Ohio State Professor Gary Wenk says voters under 25 are onboard.
"They're already sold on this is a product that is perfectly safe, far safer than alcohol in their mind and far safer than tobacco in their mind," said Wenk.
On the commission, Borden says it will be non-partisan and diverse.
"The commission would be the regulatory body that would oversee the taxation and regulation within the state of Ohio," said Borden. "We're taking something that is basically illegal right now, it has a market let's face it, and we're moving into a legal, regulated framework."
The constitutional amendment would create the Ohio Commission of Cannabis Control.
It would be compromised of 9 members, including two who are eligible for the therapeutic use of marijuana.
Two more members would be farmers, one a doctor, one a mental health professional, one representative from the state Department of Agriculture, one law enforcement official and a member from the Civil Rights Commission.
Critics aren't sold on the commission.
"As these things continue to roll out, people really need, when they get to the point they're about to pull the lever, to ask what does that look like for Ohio," said Marci Seidel of Ohio Drug Free Action Alliance.