Group Pushing for Marijuana Legalization in Ohio
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Group Pushing for Marijuana Legalization in Ohio
Posted by CN Staff on January 28, 2014 at 14:24:34 PT
By Nick Glunt 
Source: Medina Gazette
Ohio -- Colorado consumers have been able to purchase marijuana for recreational use at stores across the state since Jan. 1 — and Washington state will follow suit this year. Cher Neufer thinks the Buckeye State should join the club — despite stiff opposition.Neufer founded Ohio’s chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws in 2001. The group’s goal is to get marijuana legalized for adults — both medicinally and recreationally — and to give state government millions of dollars in sales taxes along the way. “We’ve had bills introduced into the Ohio legislature every two years for eight years now,” said Neufer, 66, of Harrisville Township.
The latest legislation — House Bill 153 and House Joint Resolution 6 — push for Ohio to legalize marijuana for medicinal use and for recreational use.The resolution — introduced in May and modeled after the Colorado amendment — would grant adults age 21 and older the ability to possess one ounce of marijuana for personal recreational use and to grow up to six indoor plants without a license.The proposal also would permit marijuana to be sold but only by licensed vendors and customers would have to show a state ID, such as a driver’s license.Under Ohio law now, possessing less than 100 grams — about 3½ ounces — is a minor misdemeanor and up to 200 grams is a fourth-degree misdemeanor. Marijuana possession becomes a felony at 200 grams. Cultivating marijuana can be a misdemeanor or a felony based on a variety of factors.Municipalities can have stiffer penalties. In the city of Medina, for example, possessing any marijuana is at least a first-degree misdemeanor punishable by a mandatory three days in jail and a maximum of six months because of a 1989 ordinance.Neufer said the proposed legislation would keep many things unchanged.Driving under the influence of marijuana and underage possession would remain illegal.Workplaces would retain the ability to screen workers for marijuana and the proposed legislation allows voters in municipalities and counties to ban recreational marijuana use.Landlords could bar tenants from growing marijuana. Legal marijuana grown in Ohio would not be allowed to leave the state and could not be sold over the Internet.“It’s not a free-for-all,” Neufer said. “It would be regulated just like beer and wine, but with even more restrictions. You can brew your own wine at home, but you can’t sell it unless you have a license.”Neufer and the organization she represents — NORML, for short — advocate marijuana’s legalization, but she said users should be responsible just like when using alcohol.“We agree it’s not for kids —just like alcohol and tobacco aren’t for kids,” she said. “And we agree that anything that’s impairing you shouldn’t be used at work or while you’re driving.”Although Neufer wants to see marijuana legalized, she said the drug is no longer part of her lifestyle. She said she used marijuana during and after college in the 1960s and ’70s. In 2001, she had drug possession charges dropped after completing an intervention program.State Rep. Bob Hagan, D-Youngstown, the chief sponsor of H.B. 153 and the resolution, first introduced a medical marijuana bill in 2005 as a senator.“I want medical marijuana to pass through the legislature so we can control it and regulate it, and tax it if we can,” he said.Under the Ohio legislation, the state would reap an initial 15 percent tax on all marijuana sales through 2018, when the tax rate would be re-examined.There’s no estimate how much tax money could result from marijuana legalization in Ohio, Hagan said. In Colorado, the tax is 25 percent and lawmakers estimate it should bring in $70 million in taxes annually.Hagan said the state would benefit financially not only from taxes, but also from reduced prison inmates and from police not “wasting resources” catching marijuana users.“When you have police officers pulling kids over and finding a bag of pot in the car, it’s ridiculous to be sending them to jail,” he said. “We should be going after the users and pushers of dangerous drugs.”Both pieces of legislation have had hearings over the spring and summer, but Hagan said he doesn’t expect them to get to the House floor for a vote because of opposition from House Speaker William G. Batchelder, R-Medina.“It’s hard to get Bill Batchelder to move on this,” Hagan said. “Put it this way: He’s not very high on the subject.”Hagan said that’s frustrating because so many people support marijuana legalization.A 2013 Pew Research Center survey found 52 percent of Americans support legalization for recreational use, and a survey by the University of Cincinnati Institute for Policy Research found in 2010 that 73 percent of Ohioans supported medical marijuana.“You’d think the legislature would act based on popular opinion,” Hagan said.Hagan isn’t the only Democrat supporting legalization. President Barack Obama in a recent interview with The New Yorker gave his take on the issue.“As has been well documented, I smoked pot as a kid, and I view it as a bad habit and a vice, not very different from the cigarettes that I smoked as a young person up through a big chunk of my adult life,” Obama said. “I don’t think it is more dangerous than alcohol.”Smoking marijuana is “not something I encourage, and I’ve told my daughters I think it’s a bad idea, a waste of time, not very healthy,” Obama said.Obama’s administration has given states permission to experiment with marijuana regulation, though its use is still illegal on federal property.Critics of the new laws raise concerns about public health and law enforcement, asking whether wide availability of the drug will lead to more underage drug use, more cases of driving while high and more crime.“Marijuana is a drug, and all drugs affect brain functioning, particularly for youth, because their brains are still developing — sometimes to the age of 25,” said Brian Nowak, director of the Medina County Drug Abuse Commission.Though marijuana reform would still ban the drug for minors, Nowak said that doesn’t stop minors right now from getting their hands on alcohol and tobacco.“You’re always going to have those stores that don’t check IDs and those people who buy it for young people,” he said.Nowak said legalizing marijuana likely would encourage more young people to use the drug. A 2011 survey by the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America found that fewer high school seniors compared to 2003 thought there was a great risk of harm from smoking marijuana.“We know tobacco and alcohol are legal, and if marijuana was too, the message that would spread is that those things are OK and not as harmful as other drugs,” Nowak said. “But there are potential dangers in them, even in alcohol and tobacco.”He said the greatest danger is drugs’ ability to cause dependency.“While it is true that alcohol and tobacco addiction rates are higher than that of marijuana, this is the case in large part because they are legal substances and the stigma associated with them has been removed,” Nowak said.“Doing the same for marijuana will only ensure that addiction rates continue to rise.”The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse reported in a 2008 study that children and teenagers nationwide are six times more likely to be in drug treatment for marijuana than all other illegal drugs combined.Nowak said that’s alarming and argued society’s growing acceptance of marijuana is partly to blame.“Legislation seeking to decriminalize and/or legalize marijuana will reduce the perception of harm associated with its use,” Nowak said. “This is not the message we can afford to send to America’s youth.”Still, he said it was valuable to have the discussion over whether to legalize the drug.“I think it’s important for people to be informed on this issue,” Nowak said, “because it’s one that’s not going away.”The Associated Press contributed to this report. Source: Medina Gazette (OH)Author: Nick Glunt Published: January 28, 2014Copyright: 2014 The Medina GazetteContact: opinion Website: -- Cannabis Archives 
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Comment #6 posted by Hope on January 31, 2014 at 20:30:29 PT
Oleg the Tumor
Thank you. I appreciate that.
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Comment #5 posted by Oleg the Tumor on January 31, 2014 at 08:00:32 PT:
Epilepsy and Cannabis
Each seizure has a "duration", or length. Between the seizures is called an "interval". When the durations lengthen and the intervals shorten, a very weird thing happens: the difference between the "normal" and "abnormal" states are blurred and the terrifying reality of not knowing the difference (and where you will "land") becomes your reality. Medications have come a long way, but cannabis has been known for thousands of years.If your neurological diagnosis includes "Progression of disease", you probably already know about cannabis.I refuse to go "gently into that good night"Rage On, brothers and sisters!Hope, thank you for your compassionate prose, 
always an inspiration!
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Comment #4 posted by Hope on January 29, 2014 at 10:21:35 PT
 Brian Nowak
 Brian Nowak and other "For the children" prohibitionists are sick mother puppies. Sick mother puppies, indeed.For the children? What about the children with different kinds of epilepsy, and the babies with cancer? When I first learned about cannabis being helpful with pain, appetite, and cancer... my mind went quickly to that gold mirrored pyramid in Memphis. Oh my Lord! A gentle medicine that could really do some good for those children. Children with Epilepsy Waiting for Marijuana sick and sickening prohibitionists have no trouble allowing sick children medicine that stuns their bodies so badly that all their hair falls out and they are crippled by the medicine. One precious baby girl I know that was being treated for leukemia... was made suddenly and completely cross eyed with her lid hanging down uncontrollably over her beautiful eye. Her beautiful long hair, long gone. But she still had a sweet weak smile, when she wasn't puking and dry heaving every minute.But for her, Charlotte, Haley and other children that are so ill... death stalking them, they won't allow the herb cannabis. It's hard to stay calm.God help us. Sick mother puppies like Brian Nowak need to be quiet, sit down, and mind their own personal business! God forbid, but should a child of his need this medicine... he can deny them the chance to see if cannabis helps them. But really, in a sane world, he shouldn't even be allowed to deny his own children, any child, or adult, this help if they needed it.He needs, and others like him need, I guess, a good dose of cell destroying chemo or some seizure medicine that blows their minds and lives to oblivion. Yes. First, into surgery they go to have a port installed near their hearts... so the giant needle can be stabbed into that one place every time and hopefully not break their veins down so quickly. Chemotherapy is awful. Truly awful. I grieve for those babies.After their ports are installed... they can learn the misery of trying to find a tolerable way to have a little rest... without impinging on that hard black box, nearly as big as a box of matches, installed under the skin in their chests. Then they can go through what it feels like when it seems everyone around you is coming at you with a needle or hurting device of some sort. Then they can see what they look like when tufts of their hair are falling out... all over the pillow... all over everywhere. And the pain from the medicine's effects. Oh, my Lord. They are babies. These people are denying sick babies gentle help. I can't comprehend where their sick minds are coming from. Are they so messed up from propaganda and lies that they no longer have any sense at all? Truly, they need some sort of treatment to help them recover from the delusions they dwell in and, even worse, try to inflict on everyone else.Maybe they should experience having their eyes roll back in their heads, their jaws lock, and their bodies arch into unbelievable positions while their bodies and minds go crazy with seizing.I want to scream at the people that are the cause of this horror. I want to shake them. I want to wake them up and make them come to their senses. Oh, God? What is wrong with them? How much longer must children and parents all suffer from their ignorance and idiocy?Wake them up! Let them have the epiphanies they so badly need to have.
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Comment #3 posted by Universer on January 28, 2014 at 20:18:55 PT
What message do we send our young people when we don't use facts in making laws?
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Comment #2 posted by Universer on January 28, 2014 at 20:07:38 PT
Kids First
Whenever a prohib speaks, count the number of words before they reference "youth," "kids," "children," et cetera. I betcha it's always within the first ten words. Sometimes fewer.This is their immediate strawman. It is their go-to. It is their primary scare tactic. And still, it is an argument that easily can be (and, by us, should be) cut off right away at its knees. Simply say, "We agree, kids shouldn't be smoking pot, so if we legalize it for adults, it makes it harder for kids to get."Then ask them a favor. Ask them to speak to a young person they know. Ask them to ask that young person which is easier to get at their local high school -- weed or booze?We know what the answer will be. Weed. And we know why. Prohibition.Correcting Cannabis Prohibition is not a panacea. But it is a far more reasonable alternative to maintaining Cannabis Prohibition, which is an anti-panacea. Prohibition does everything (black markets, crime profits, no revenues, kids' access, police states, filled prisons, ruined lives) that the idealistically moral prohib should hope it would never do.That's their go-to kneejerk strawman reaction. Let's take it away from them.
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Comment #1 posted by bullhead on January 28, 2014 at 15:21:16 PT:
Same old BS
The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse reported in a 2008 study that children and teenagers nationwide are six times more likely to be in drug treatment for marijuana than all other illegal drugs combined.Nowak said that’s alarming and argued society’s growing acceptance of marijuana is partly to blame.Six times more likely to be forced in to a drug treatment program or more probation time….. What would you choose?
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