Ohio: Group submits petitions to legalize marijuana
Kettering woman supports Constitutional amendment.
By Lynn Hulsey, Dayton Daily News
Photo by Teesha McClam, Dayton Daily News
DAYTON – A group supporting legalization of medical marijuana in Ohio has taken the first steps to place a Constitutional amendment on the November 2012 ballot.
Supporters turned in 2,143 signatures on petitions containing summary language of the proposed amendment to Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, who has sent the signatures out to local boards of election to verify.
The group needs 1,000 signatures before DeWine will determine if the summary is a fair and truthful statement. After that, it is forwarded for review by the Ohio Ballot Board and to Ohio secretary of State Jon Husted. The group would then need to gather at least 385,245 valid signatures on petitions to place the amendment on the ballot, said Matt McClellan, press secretary for Husted.
"I'm totally opposed to that amendment," said Montgomery County Sheriff Phil Plummer. "I think it would make too much marijuana available to kids in the community."
He said it would create traffic problems because people high on marijuana could be driving and causing accidents and it would be an issue for employers, including him, who want drug-free employees.
"I think we have enough prescription drugs out there to handle the (medical) problems. I'm worried about the use and availability of this marijuana," Plummer said. "I think it would be just more problems for us so I'm opposed to it."
At least a dozen states have legalized medical marijuana, but it remains illegal under federal law and opponents question both the medical value and the validity of the medical claims of those who receive prescriptions.? An April study released by the Pew Research Center found that 73 percent of Americans favor their state permitting the sale and use of medical marijuana prescribed by a doctor.
"We’re hoping the ballot will force our legislators to stand up and do what’s right," said Kettering resident Tonya Davis, 48, who was one of four committee members in charge of petitions supporting medical marijuana.
Davis, who suffers from a variety of physical ailments, said marijuana brings her relief without the negative consequences of narcotic pain relievers. She said people like her should be able to legally grow, possess or obtain marijuana from a certified provider if a medical professional prescribes it.
According to the group’s summary of the amendment, qualifying conditions would include glaucoma, post-traumatic stress disorder, sickle cell anemia, Parkinson’s disease or any condition that causes symptoms such as chronic pain, severe muscle spasms or wasting syndrome. Patients could possess up to 3.5 ounces of marijuana.
“I’ve got more things wrong (with me) than right,” said Davis, who said she suffers from scoliosis, thyroid disease, inflamed bowel disease and other problems.
“Medical marijuana would be a lifesaver for me because (with) the stronger pharmaceuticals I can’t function: the spasms, the nausea and all of that,” Davis said. “I do not buy, sell or grow. I pray my friends come through.”
The proposed amendment is similar to a bill legalizing medical marijuana proposed in April by state Reps. Kenny Yuko, D-Richmond Heights, and Rep. Robert Hagan, D-Youngstown. The bill is being reviewed by the House health and aging committee.