Democratic Candidate for Governor Says Legalize Medical Marijuana in Ohio

If you’re like 87 percent of Ohio voters, you think people should be able to use marijuana as medicine. But nearly all of your elected officials disagree with you.

Enter Ed FitzGerald, the struggling Democratic candidate for governor. FitzGerald supports legalizing medical marijuana, he told The Enquirer Wednesday, breaking with nearly all Republicans and most Democrats in a stance that could help give his campaign energy among younger voters.

“There are people that are suffering from conditions that medical marijuana can alleviate, especially those chronic pain types of conditions,” FitzGerald said in a telephone interview. “I just think it would show a real lack of compassion if we would continue to deny them that access.”

Gov. John Kasich, who has a 6- to 19-point lead over FitzGerald in independent polls, says he opposes legalizing medical marijuana because the overall medical community has remained reticent on the issue.

That’s the stance all Republican officials and most Democrats have taken, hesitant to endorse what’s viewed in some circles as complicity with drug use.

So FitzGerald’s support likely won’t be enough for Ohio to change course and join 23 other states that have legalized medical marijuana, said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, which supports marijuana legalization.

“It’s always nice to have candidates for statewide office endorse the legalization of medical marijuana, but I don’t see that it’s going to make much of a difference now, from what I understand about the state of the gubernatorial race in Ohio,” Nadelmann said of FitzGerald’s stance. “I think what we most need to see is John Kasich come out in support.”

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