Medical marijuana project moves along, while Lewis proposals on hold: Whatever Happened To … ?
The Plain Dealer catches up with local stories published in 2011 in a year-end series of “Whatever happened to . . . ?” articles running through Jan. 3. The weekly edition of the feature, which appears on Mondays and updates stories from the previous year and beyond, will resume Jan. 9.
Whatever happened to the movement to legalize marijuana in Ohio?
A legalization push started in May by billionaire Peter B. Lewis has since stalled.
But another advocacy group has made progress in its effort to let voters decide whether medical marijuana should be legal in Ohio.
Lewis, chairman of Progressive Corp. and a well-known supporter of the cause, sought proposals to run a legalization campaign. The goal was to get the issue on the 2012 ballot.
But there has been no significant progress for such a campaign in Ohio, Graham Boyd, an adviser to Lewis, said recently. Boyd said several proposals were submitted but “we haven’t really made an affirmative decision one way or another.”
“We are just waiting and watching to see how things develop,” Boyd said.
Meanwhile, another advocacy group is moving ahead with its own ballot initiative.
In October, the Ohio Ballot Board certified petition language submitted by the Ohio Patient Network for a proposed constitutional amendment to legalize medical marijuana.
The amendment would allow qualified adult patients to possess up to 3.5 ounces of marijuana. Under the amendment, patients would be qualified if they have certain medical conditions — including glaucoma, Parkinson’s disease, cancer, HIV and AIDS — or if their condition causes severe pain, severe nausea or other symptoms.
With certification from the ballot board, the Ohio Patient Network and its supporters can begin collecting the 385,245 valid voter signatures required to put the proposed amendment on the ballot. The network would have to collect those signatures by early July to get the issue on the 2012 fall ballot.
“We’ve started the process, and right now we’re looking for volunteers to help us gather signatures,” said Tonya Davis of the Ohio Patient Network.
Davis, 48, of Kettering, said she suffers from calcium deposits on her brain that can cause brain damage, dementia and other health problems. She said legalized medical marijuana would help her avoid treating her problems with prescription narcotics.
“I want to utilize what life I’ve got left in a dignified manner,” she said.
An April 2009 Ohio poll, conducted by the Institute for Policy Research at the University of Cincinnati, found that 73 percent of Ohio adults favored allowing medical marijuana.
— Joe Guillen