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May 3, 2013

"Proposals would legalize marijuana in Ohio"

The title of this post is the headline of this article that caught my eye this morning in my own local paper.  Here are the basics of the story:

As poll numbers show Ohioans are growing increasingly comfortable with the idea of marijuana use, a Youngstown Democrat wants to give people the chance to make the drug fully legal in Ohio.

Rep. Robert F. Hagan has made a few attempts over the years to persuade his colleagues to allow for the use of medical marijuana in Ohio, and each effort has died a quiet death. A spokesman for Speaker William G. Batchelder, R-Medina, declined to comment on the pair of proposals Hagan introduced yesterday.

One is a bill that would allow patients with certain chronic conditions such as cancer or sickle-cell anemia to use marijuana for treatment.  Eighteen other states have approved similar measures. “In addition to the studies that show marijuana to be a valuable treatment option for chronic pain, nausea and seizure disorders, I have heard countless stories of how cannabis has made a difference in the lives of people who are sick or dying,” Hagan said.

His other proposal, modeled after an amendment recently passed in Colorado, would ask voters to approve allowing people 21 or older to purchase and use marijuana.  The drug could be sold only by state-licensed establishments and would be subject to a 15 percent excise tax.  “With billions upon billions spent on the war on drugs with little progress to show for it, it is time for more-sensible drug policy in this country,” Hagan said, arguing that the revenue could help restore cuts to education and local governments.

It takes a three-fifths vote for the legislature to put an issue on the ballot.  A recent Saperstein Associates poll of more than 1,000 Ohioans for The Dispatch found that legalizing medical marijuana was overwhelmingly favored, 63 percent to 37 percent, but making pot completely legal was opposed by a 21-point margin.  Martin D. Saperstein, head of the Columbus polling firm, noted that surveys in other states are finding growing acceptance of legalizing marijuana, especially if it would be regulated and taxed.

As I will be blogging about in the coming months, in the Fall I will be teaching a seminar at my law school titled "Marijuana Law, Policy and Reform."  Because Ohio is still a fairly conservative state socially, I doubt talk of marijuana reforms will be much more than talk over the next few years. But I am pleased to see the talk getting started, and it will be especially interesting to watch here whether and how public opinion may change as more and more states move forward with marijuana reform experiments.

May 3, 2013 at 10:32 AM | Permalink

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Comments

I applaud the measure to get this on the ballot. Let the people decide how their state should be run, not bureaucrats in the legislature.

Posted by: Steve.P | May 3, 2013 1:13:16 PM

I'm a blogger.

Once endocannabinoids are more widely known the opposition to medical marijuana will all but disappear. Sadly our legislators are among the least educated.

Endocannabinoids - The Science.

Posted by: M. Simon | May 4, 2013 4:08:31 AM

Steve P. --

"I applaud the measure to get this on the ballot. Let the people decide how their state should be run, not bureaucrats in the legislature."

I agree. This should absolutely get on the ballot, as did the proposal to end the death penalty in California last November. I hope voters in Massachusetts and Maryland will also get the chance to speak on their states' legislative repeal of the death penalty.

I would not vote to legalize pot or any other presently illegal drug such as meth, but if the majority of voters says otherwise, the social contract requires me to abide by the result. I'm not one for calling referendum results "the tyranny of the majority" when some left wing proposal loses, and "the will of the people" when it wins. It's majority rule one way or the other.

Posted by: Bill Otis | May 6, 2013 4:45:56 PM

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