Ohio making moves


2 groups push medical marijuana


Two proposed medical-marijuana issues potentially headed for Ohio’s Nov. 6 ballot seem similar at first glance but are quite different in terms of specifics and supporters.

The Ohio Medical Cannabis Amendment of 2012 was approved yesterday by the Ohio Ballot Board, clearing the way for supporters to begin gathering the 385,245 signatures of registered voters needed to qualify the issue for the ballot. The group has until July 6 to submit names.

Mary Jane Borden of Westerville, a committee member for the Cannabis Amendment, said medical marijuana can be an effective, natural way to ease chronic pain without relying on addictive narcotic medications.

“We have a plant that’s been in existence for 10,000 years, and it’s never killed anyone,” she said.

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

In October, Ohio’s five-member ballot board, led by Secretary of State Jon Husted, approved a similar proposed constitutional amendment, the Ohio Alternative Treatment Amendment.

The general goal of both issues is the same: to persuade voters to amend the Ohio Constitution to legalize the use of marijuana to treat chronic pain associated with many diseases and conditions, including Alzheimer’s, cancer, HIV/AIDS, Parkinson’s, spinal-cord injuries and rheumatoid arthritis.

But the two proposals differ in their implementation. The Cannabis Amendment includes no limits on how much marijuana someone could buy, possess or grow, leaving that decision and many others to a commission to be established later.

The Alternative Treatment Amendment, by comparison, would embed voluminous detail in the Ohio Constitution, including the amount of marijuana (3.5 ounces) an individual could possess; where sellers could not locate (within 1,000 feet of schools, churches, recreation centers and drug-and-alcohol treatment facilities); and fees related to buying and selling.

Backers of the issues come from different points of view.

The Cannabis Amendment is supported primarily by patients, advocates and business people, said Theresa Daniello of Cleveland, who suffers from long-term thoracic back spasms. “My pain is forever,” she said, but it could be eased by marijuana.

The Alternative Treatment Amendment’s most high-profile backer is the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, a group that has long advocated complete legalization.

Geoff Korff, a Salem, Ohio, lawyer and businessman on the Alternative Treatment team, said he is uncomfortable with leaving specifics to a commission. He said his group is organizing and gathering signatures, targeting specific events statewide.

Korff thinks only one issue will make it to November: “I honestly believe there will have to be some reconciliation that takes place.”

The Columbus-based Drug Free Action Alliance doesn’t like either proposal.

“We don’t do any medication through the ballot box or legislative initiative. We do it through the Food and Drug Administration,” said Marcie Seidel, executive director. “We don’t think this is the proper way to do it. It should go through the proper channels so that when a person takes a medication, they know what to expect from a certain dosage, the side effects and interaction with other drugs.”


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