Group Seeks Second Medical-Marijuana Issue for Ballot

Backers of a second medical-marijuana amendment will file language with Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine today, hoping to get their issue on the November statewide ballot.

The Ohio Medical Cannabis Amendment of 2012, accompanied by nearly 3,000 signatures, will be submitted to DeWine to review the language summarizing the proposal, said Theresa Daniello, a supporter of the nonpartisan group that includes many patients seeking pain relief for medical conditions.

The proposed language argues that Ohioans have “inalienable rights” under the Ohio Constitution, including the right to “be eligible to use cannabis as medicine as a result of a diagnosed debilitating medical condition.” The issue would establish an Ohio Commission of Cannabis Control to regulate medical cannabis in Ohio.

The group’s first proposal was rejected by DeWine last year because it did not fairly summarize the proposal.

If DeWine approves the language this time — and Secretary of State Jon Husted certifies that it has valid signatures from at least 1,000 registered Ohio voters — the issue will go to the Ohio Ballot Board. Approval there would allow supporters to begin collecting the 385,245 signatures needed to qualify for the fall ballot as a constitutional amendment.

In October, the Ballot Board approved a competing proposal, the Ohio Alternative Treatment Amendment. It would allow qualified medical practitioners to prescribe marijuana for patients at least 18 years old with a “qualifying medical condition.” Patients could obtain up to 3.5 ounces of marijuana at a time and could cultivate up to 12 marijuana plants.

The differences between the two proposals are not readily apparent since both would allow use of marijuana for specified medical conditions such as cancer, Parkinson's disease, HIV and AIDS, post-traumatic stress disorder, sickle-cell anemia, glaucoma and other diseases. But Daniello said the two sides cannot reach agreement and both decided to move ahead independently.

“We believe in democracy,” she said. “Having multiple choices out there is very important.”

Jessica Knight, a college student from Cincinnati and member of Daniello’s coalition who suffers from a rare chronic joint disease, said she and other patients “view this as only the first essential step.

“In November, Ohio constituents must come together and not think about their political association, yet about the patients who, with the help of Ohio voters, can finally have access to a safe and effective natural medicine that is less toxic than many of the drugs that physicians prescribe everyday,” Knight said.

Sixteen states plus the District of Columbia have some form of medical marijuana law.

- Article originally from The Columbus Dispatch.

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