By Steve Elliott
An overwhelming majority of Ohioans believe medical marijuana should be legal, according to a poll released last week. But the Buckeye State appears unlikely to change its cannabis laws this year, because a ballot drive doesn't have enough money, and the Republican-controlled Legislature won't bring the issue up for a vote.
Advocates with the Ohio Rights Group have gathered only 50,000 of the more than 385,000 signatures they'd need by July 2 to qualify for November's ballot, reports Chrissie Thompson at The Cincinnati Enquirer. Estimates for the amount needed to gather the remaining signatures and run a campaign run as high as $10.5 million. They only have about $50,000 in donations they've received or have been promised.
Ohio has no fewer than three medical marijuana amendments whose language has been approved by the Attorney General and the bipartisan Ohio Ballot Board. The Ohio Cannabis Rights Amendment has the most signatures (it's the one with 50,000), but supporters would need to hire a signature gathering firm within a month to have any hope of qualifying for the ballot -- much less finance a campaign if they manage to squeak onto the ballot.
By Steve Elliott
Voters on Ohio overwhelmingly approve of medical marijuana, according to a poll released on Monday.
The Quinnipiac University poll of Ohio voters found 87 percent support legalizing medicinal cannabis, while only 11 percent oppose, reports Jackie Borchardt at the Northeast Ohio Media Group.
Ohio voters also approve of allowing adults to possess small amounts of marijuana for personal use, but by a much narrower margin, with 51 percent favoring and 44 percent opposed.
Ohioans' views of marijuana are complicated, according to Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Qunnipiac University Polling Institute. "Twice as many voters think alcohol is dangerous than marijuana, and about half the state's voters think the two are equally harmful," Brown said.
Support for legalization is strongest among voters 18 to 29 years old; 72 percent of this age group approve, with just 25 percent opposing. But Baby Boomers and Generation Xers reported higher rates of marijuana usage than younger voters.
"No one should be surprised that support for legalization is strongest among younger voters," Brown said, reports Jim Provance at The Blade of Toledo.
More than half of Ohio voters -- 55 percent -- claimed they'd never tried marijuana.
The poll surveyed 1,370 registered Ohio voters from February 12-17 on land lines and cell phones. The poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 2.7 percentage points.
By Steve Elliott
Ohio's Marijuana Eradication Program pulled 20,747 cannabis plants from fields in 2013, down from a record high of 84,660 plants in 2010. Law enforcement officials claimed the drop is due to a combination of increased enforcement and indoor growing.
Predictably, Scott Duff, supervisor at the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigations, claimed the $500,000 boondoggle is "having an impact," reports Jim Otte at WHIO.
"Now it is in small patches spread out," Duff said.
Most of the $500K per year goes to pay for the helicopter and pilot. The money comes from a federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) grant.
There were only 27 arrests statewide for marijuana cultivation in Ohio last year, according to DEA figures. Law enforcement authorities claim it is almost impossible to identify who planted the marijuana.
Meigs County, Ohio had the most plants removed of any county statewide, with 1,642.
Cannabis advocates call the eradication program a waste of money.
Law enforcement would be better off focusing on hard drugs and prescription drug abuse, according to Tonya Davis of the NORML Women's Alliance.
By Steve Elliott
A leader of the medical marijuana reform movement in Ohio says the numerous benefits of cannabis use mean that it should be legalized for medical and industrial reasons.
John Pardee, president of the Ohio Rights Group, said in addition to the medical benefits of marijuana, hemp, a non-psychoactive variety of cannabis, can be used for food, fuel and fiber, reports Chelsea Miller at the Lorain County Chronicle-Telegram.
Pardee did some research after his son was involved in a near-fatal automobile crash in 2008. He learned that conventional medicine offers few options for pain management other than dangerous opiates -- but he found that medical marijuana is a non-toxic alternative.
"I found that cannabis has not killed anyone," he said to a crowd at Oberlin College on Thursday.
The Ohio Rights Group is sponsoring the Ohio Cannabis Rights Amendment, which would allow for the medical use of marijuana and the industrial use of hemp. The group has already gathered more than 30,000 signatures from registered Ohio voters, but it needs 385,000 signatures to get the amendment in front of voters on the 2014 ballot.
That's where Cheryl Shuman, "the Martha Stewart of Marijuana," comes in. "She has the biggest megaphone in America today," Pardee said. "She's reached literally millions of people; I couldn't think of a more appropriate person."
By Steve Elliott
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine on Monday rejected a proposed constitutional amendment to legalize marijuana in the state.
DeWine turned down petitioners for the End Ohio Cannabis Prohibition Act, reports Alan Johnson at The Columbus Dispatch, listing four reasons that the summary was not "fair and truthful" as required by state law.
The petition was submitted on August 2 by three Ohio residents filing as Responsible Ohioans for Cannabis, including activist Tonya Davis of Dayton suburb Kettering. It had 2,304 signatures of registered voters, more than double the 1,000 required.
DeWine said the submitted ballot summary omitted references to amendment language which repudiates federal cannabis prohibition, and to language saying "persons cannot be considered to be under the influence of cannabis 'solely because of the presence of metabolites or components of cannabis in his or her body.' "
The attorney general also faulted the summary for saying education will be provided about the "medical harms or benefits from the personal use of cannabis products," although the actual amendment includes no such provision.
DeWine also said the summary did not refer to language in the body of the amendment which says the departments of Agriculture and Commerce would be responsible for overseeing the marijuana program.
By Steve Elliott
A Summit County Deputy Sheriff pleaded not guilty at his arraignment Monday after police discovered two bags of marijuana on his possession Saturday in Youngstown, Ohio, reports WKBN.
When they stopped Darrell Joy, 41, for failing to display a front license plate, cops said they saw a bag of pot in plain view in Joy's left breast pocket; they also claimed he "smelled strongly" of marijuana, reports Vindy.com.
Police said Joy told them he is a law enforcement officer, and that he had taken the weed "off of some kid."
Police said they then found another, larger baq of marijuana in Joy's right front pants pocket. Joy said he found both bags on the ground at a function he attended, and that he took them so that kids wouldn't find them, and that he planned to "destroy them" later. (Likely by burning it a little at the time.)
Joy faces charges of "marijuana abuse" and failing to display a front license plate after being stopped by police at 7:29 p.m. on Saturday night, reports The Columbus Dispatch.
Police seized two small plastic bags of marijuana, a loaded .45-caliber pistol, and Joy's badge and deputy identification.
By Steve Elliott
An Ohio man was cited for marijuana possession and drug paraphernalia on Saturday after he told police someone had stolen his marijuana.
Derrick Boone, 34, of Lorain, Ohio, admitted to having a small amount of cannabis in his possession after police responded to an "unwanted man" call in the 4700 block of Chelsea Avenue, reports The Chronicle-Telegram of Lorain County.
Boone pulled police Officer Rudy Arce aside to talk privately to him, then told the officer he was upset that someone had taken his marijuana, according to Arce's report.
When asked if he had any pot on him, Boone replied that he was carrying marijuana in his sweatpants.
A small amount of marijuana was found and seized in the ensuing search.
Boone's girlfriend said she called the cops after he got mad at her and accused her sons of stealing his weed.
(Graphic: Hemp Beach TV)
By Steve Elliott
Cincinnati's Jim Berns hasn't even been elected mayor yet, but some would say he's already broken his first campaign promise.
Berns, a Libertarian mayoral hopeful, told people he would be giving out "nice plants about six weeks from harvest," reports Leslie Larson at the New York Daily News. Since Berns has often expressed his support to "re-legalize marijuana," folks naturally assumed he meant cannabis.
His attempt to attract voters -- and publicity -- with the ploy to draw attention to his platform, which calls for the legalization of marijuana in Ohio, drew about 30 people, mostly college-aged. They queued up following his talk to receive their plant at a city park.
But when the time came to hand out the greenery, they were just tomato plants. Wearing an American flag tie, Berns was photographed handing out the tomato plants and distributing fliers about his crusade to re-legalize cannabis.
"We support people deciding themselves to smoke marijuana," Berns said.
Before the event, Berns had been coy about the plants, saying only that they were "nice plants about six weeks from harvest."
He previously ran for a seat in Congress, but lost to GOP Rep. Steve Chabot (who, incidentally, is a "hard on drugs" pot-hating moron).
Photo: Jim Berns
By Steve Elliott
Backers of Ohio's third attempt in less than two years to legalize medical marijuana believe that the third time's the charm. They insist their latest effort will be successful, as Michigan's was in 2008.
"There's far more interest in people backing this one, particularly those who want to bring people into the political arena in 2014," said Bob Fitrakis, a member of the Ohio Rights Group, which is behind the latest effort, reports Jim Provance of The Toledo Blade.
Both Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and the Ohio Ballot Board have approved language that would be shown to potential petition signers. But, skeptics point out, its two predecessors also reached that point, in late 2011 and early 2012, and both these efforts fizzled.
Ohio Rights Group members said they know the group will need financial support and probably a wealthy benefactor if it is to be successful at gathering almost 400,000 valid signatures from registered voters in the state.
Five of the six members making up the petition committee of the Ohio Rights Group were also on the petition committees for the 2011 and 2012 efforts, but they say they've learned some lessons along the way.
Unlike the first two medical marijuana petition drives, the proposed Ohio Cannabis Rights Amendment contains the political buzzword "rights."
There are four proposals in Ohio to either legalize medicinal cannabis or decriminalize altogether
By Michael Bachara, Hemp News Correspondent
Earlier this month, Ohio State Rep. Bob Hagan (D), introduced two bills in the state legislature. The first, HB 153, would legalize cannabis for medicinal use by those with qualifying conditions. The second, HJR 6, would have the legislature put full decriminalization of cannabis on the ballot for Ohio voters.
“We need to admit that we’ve lost the war on drugs. By taxing the sale of marijuana at a reasonable rate, revenue can be used to implement programs that target more harmful drugs like methamphetamine, cocaine and heroin. We could be making money to hire more police and fire, pull up our education system, put more money toward local government funding," Hagen explained.
Hagen added, "I've watched a lot of people come through my office suffering with maladies that regular prescriptions just didn't help. They asked me to do it, I said fine. It's the second time I've introduced it and it flies in the face of the pharmaceutical industry, but those who asked me to do it really need it because they've tried everything else."
In addition to the legislative bills, a group of grassroots activists in Ohio is also working to get an amendment on the ballot that would change the state constitution and legalize medicinal cannabis and restore industrial hemp.
By Steve Elliott
Cincinnati mayoral candidate Jim Berns, a Libertarian, has announced his support for the re-legalization of marijuana.
"The vast majority of Americans do not realize that the USA became a great country before marijuana was criminalized in the 1930s as a way to discriminate against Mexican-Americans and blacks moving from the south to the north," Berns said, reports WCPO.
Bern said he supports Ohio Rep. Robert Hagan's proposal to legalize marijuana for medical use, and also a second proposal which would allow people 21 and older to buy and use cannabis. He said he agrees with Hagan's idea that too much money is spent on the War On Drugs with little progress to show for it.
"Over and over I heard stories how loved ones got into trouble with the law for using marijuana, a substance of little danger compared to alcohol," Berns said. "These stories illustrate how we are making a serious health problem into a tragedy for families and the community.
"Over 300 Ohioans are killed in alcohol related traffic accidents each year," Berns said. "According to DrugFacts.org, of the over two million people who died in 2009 in the U.S., none were from the use of marijuana."
By Steve Elliott
An Ohio lawmaker has introduced two proposals, one of which would allow patients with certain conditions to use marijuana medicinally, and another which would provide Ohioans the chance to legalize recreational marijuana at the ballot box.
Rep. Robert Hagan (D-Youngstown) introduced the proposals at the statehouse on Thursday, reports 10tv.com.
House Bill 153 would allow patients to use marijuana to treat medical ailments with their doctor's authorization.
The other measure, House Joint Resolution 5, would provide state residents with the opportunity for a statewide vote to legalize and tax cannabis. The measure is based on Colorado's successful legalization measure from last year, Amendment 64, according to Rep. Hagan's office.
"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," Rep. Hagan said. "This issue deserves a Yes or No vote by the people."
(Graphic: The Weed Blog)
By Steve Elliott
Ohio voters could get the chance to decide on a constitutional amendment that would legalize medical marijuana and create a million new jobs statewide, if the Ohio Cannabis Rights Amendment gets the necessary signatures.
The signature drive for the amendment, which would allow medicinal use of cannabis and the cultivation of industrial hemp, was launched over the weekend in Lorain County, reports Jessica James at the Northern Ohio Morning Journal.
Ohio Rights Group President John Pardee and his wife Linda, of Amherst, attended an event in Oberlin on Saturday which launched the drive to collect 1,000 signatures required for the approval of Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine for a full statewide petition.
If approved by the attorney general, the group will need 385,000 signatures of valid voters to get the amendment on the ballot.
"We are for medical marijuana for qualifying residents and veterans in need, but we're also incorporating the permission for farmers to grow industrial hemp," said Pardee. "There are very low levels of THC, the psychoactive drug compound in marijuana, in hemp. But because it's a part of the cannabis genus, it is also prohibited."
Voters Could Decide Whether To Legalize Drug For Some Uses
CINCINNATI -- Backers of a ballot proposal to legalize medical marijuana in Ohio have been cleared by the state attorney general to begin gathering the roughly 385,000 signatures needed to put it on the November ballot.
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said Friday that he has certified the first 1,000 valid signatures, and cleared summary petition language on the proposed Ohio Medical Cannabis Amendment as fair and truthful.
The amendment to Ohio's constitution would allow those with a debilitating medical condition to use, possess, produce and acquire marijuana and paraphernalia.
Qualifying conditions include cancer, AIDS, glaucoma and Crohn's disease.
It would authorize vendors to make and distribute the otherwise illegal drug and set up a state oversight commission.
The proposal also would protect patients from violations of privacy, confidentiality and government interference.
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.