Medical Marijuana Advocates In Ohio Cheer House Vote

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A historic vote just after midnight this morning in Washington will end federal raids on medical marijuana.  It's the first time ever Congress has approved a major marijuana law reform.

The House had tried to pass this bill six previous times - all failed.

So what's changed?  Every major poll shows that three out of four Americans now support the use of medical marijuana.

Dawn Dunlap was born with a brittle bone disorder.

She says through the years using cannabis has done more to ease her pain than a menu of prescription drugs that eventually led - her - to addiction.

"I was on so many pills it was unbelievable," said Dunlap.  "And I was actually getting sick non stop."

Then - one day about 20 years ago- a friend recommended to Dawn that she try cannabis.

"It's the best thing I ever did, said Dunlap.  "I actually slept through an entire night.  It really truly does kill the pain."

And she's been advocating for it ever since.

Dawn has become part of a growing number of people calling on lawmakers to ease restrictions on medical marijuana.

Just after midnight this morning, the House voted 219 to 189 to restrict the DEA from going after medical marijuana operations - a first of its kind vote.

Anti-drug advocates are warning that it's a risky first step.

"Are our children going to be better off? Are we going to be safer? Is our economy and our work force going to be better?," said Marci Seidel of the Ohio Drug Free Action Alliance.  "I'm not seeing anything like that happening with marijuana."

Central Ohio Republican congressman Steve Stivers also blasted the early morning vote.

"The medical marijuana debate should be a science-based deliberation by the FDA, who is charged with approving medical therapies in America, around whether there are any therapeutic benefits of medical marijuana," Stivers told 10TV.  "It should not be a popularity contest."

Democratic congresswoman Joyce Beatty voted for the bill.

"We have an obligation to allow individuals suffering from ailments to have access to treatment within a legal framework that respects states' rights," Beatty told 10TV.  "It is not only the responsible thing to do -it is the compassionate thing to do."

Dunlap says politics aside, for her the issue is personal.

"I don't know why they bothered to demonize it, I don't understand this," said Dunlap.  "We are not all Cheech and Chong.  Find some compassion in your heart.  In your soul."

Medical marijuana supporters in Ohio are trying to get the issue on this Novembers ballot.

Organizers would not tell 10TV today exactly how many petition signatures they have - they need a minimum of 385 thousand by July 1st.