Ohio Medical Marijuana Ballot Issue Takes First Step

A group that wants to legalize medical marijuana in Ohio has turned over of a petition full of signatures for what they say is their first step toward putting the idea before voters in November 2012.

The proposed “Ohio Alternative Treatment Amendment” would amend the state constitution to allow caregivers to give patients with qualifying ailments up to 3.5 ounces in pot .

Backers of the measure last week submitted a petition that summarized that amendment with 2,143 signatures to Attorney General Mike DeWine.

Secretary of State Jon Husted, Ohio’s top elections official, said the next step in the process is validating 1,000 signatures and passing the language of the petition in a review process. If the proposal makes it through the review process, its supporters will need to collect at least another 385,245 valid signatures to win the amendment a spot on the ballot next year.

“We’re hoping the ballot will force our legislators to stand up and do what’s right,” said Tonya Davis, 48, a Dayton resident and member of a committee that delivered the first batch of signatures to DeWine.

Davis told the Dayton Daily News that marijuana has offered her relief from her scoliosis, thyroid disease, inflammatory bowel disease and other health problems without spasms, nausea and other side effects that are commonly found in prescribed narcotic pain medications.

A recent study done by Creighton University showed that medical marijuana can help stimulate appetite for those with eating disorders, control nausea and vomiting associated with cancer chemotherapy, decrease interocular pressure, relieve neurological and movement disorders and help with many other various pain-causing illnesses.

Davis said the medical conditions laid out in the petition that would qualify for medical marijuana include glaucoma, Parkinson’s disease, post-traumatic stress disorder, or any disease that produces severe nausea, wasting, persistent muscle spasms or chronic pain.

Montgomery County Sheriff Phil Plummer, who described himself as “totally opposed” to the amendment, said that medical marijuana would create a variety of problems for law enforcement.

“I think it would make too much marijuana available to kids in the community,” Plummer said.

Plummer also expressed concern that patients using marijuana might get behind the wheel and cause accidents.

Supporters of the amendment counter by saying that the bill would prohibit the sharing of medical marijuana with minors or the operation of a motor vehicle by anyone under the influence of the drug.

A second petition campaign is under way for an amendment that would take a different approach toward medical marijuana in Ohio, by having the state regulate it similar to the way it does alcohol, according to the website of the Ohio Patient Network, which supports the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes.

The capital of the United States and 16 other states have already legalized medicinal marijuana: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.

– Article originally from WALB News 10.