A group dedicated to legalizing industrial hemp and medical marijuana took a critical step in its effort to put the issue in front of Ohio voters.
About 10 organizers and volunteers from the Ohio Rights Group showed up at the Ohio Capital with signed petitions. Organizers say the group has collected 2,058 signatures--more than the 1,000 required to begin the process.
"This is but a the first milestone on the long and difficult road to reform," " said Ohio Rights Group President John Pardee.
The Ohio Attorney General will review the proposed language to ensure it satisfies the legal criteria for the Secretary of State to put the issue on the ballot.
A woman who called herself Angelica (but did not give her last name) said that she came to support the legalization effort because marijuana helped her appetite when she had a brain tumor.
"Without it, I wouldn't be as healthy as I am today," Angelica said.
Still, critics say legalizing the drug will create serious social problems.
Patients recovering from drug addiction often say marijuana contributed to their problems, according to Maryhaven Executive Director Paul Coleman.
“You could talk to any one of our patients here at Maryhaven, and none of them would have anything good thing to say about marijuana," Coleman said.
Ohio Right Group supporters dispute such claims and say the positive effects outweigh the possible harms.
The Attorney General should have a decision about whether to approve the proposed ballot language in 10 days, an attorney for the Ohio Rights Group said.
The group has not yet decided whether it will seek a spot on the 2013 or 2014 ballot.
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