Cleveland – Cannabis. Hash. Weed. Locoweed. Pot. Grass. Mary Jane. Bud. Reefer. Hemp. Dope. Acapulco Gold.
As you know, these are all synonyms for marijuana (there are many more), and they are especially helpful if one is writing a column about the stuff and doesn’t want to type “marijuana” 37 times. So with that out of the way:
Ohio is less than a month away from joining the 25 other states that have legalized at least some uses of marijuana.
Hemp Day in the Buckeye State will occur Sept. 8 the specified 90 days after Gov. John Kasich, without fanfare, signed a bill that will make it legal for Ohioans to possess cannabis in some forms for medical purposes.
As reported by cleveland.com’s Jackie Borchardt on Monday, there are still plenty of unknowns and it will be nearly a year before the process will be fully operational, but legalization is most assuredly coming.
At one time, that would have been terrible news for a lot of us who believe that legalizing the substance would open the door to the drug culture for untold thousands who might not otherwise have been inclined to walk through it.
Proponents of full legalization argue that weed is no more addictive than beer or alcohol … that it is not a “gateway drug,” a milder hallucinogen that leads to use of more powerful, more addictive substances. But while it is certainly likely that the majority of pot users have tried smoking it and stopped there, tell that to the survivors of people who started with weed and continued on in search of a better high before being finally stopped by a fatal overdose of cocaine, heroin or opioids.
The good news is that the Ohio legislation is not a sham law like those in Washington, D.C., and some of the states, where under the guise of medical difficulties, practically anyone can find a doctor who will, with a wink-wink, prescribe marijuana that can be smoked to help them deal with the rigors of the day.
The Ohio Legislature, in a welcome burst of bipartisanship from both the House and Senate, wisely crafted a bill that allows doctors to prescribe the drug for specific, legitimate illnesses and maladies, while walling off recreational use from those who only want to get high with a little help from their friends.
For example, it’s still illegal to smoke it, or to grow your own. People with prescriptions for about 20 specific medical conditions will be able to buy plant material, patches, tinctures and oils, but with the THC – the chemical compound that produces the high but also counteracts nausea and pain and could provide relief for other ailments – monitored and labeled.
That stipulation stands in the way of further attempts, like the one that failed at the ballot box last November, by proponents of full legalization who want to make access to the drug similar to that in Colorado, where the frequency of hemp stores can seem overwhelming to the innocent visitor.
Last year a group with the ironic name “ResponsibleOhio” easily managed to collect more than 300,000 signatures that enabled them to get a legalization referendum on the ballot. The effort got thumped by a 2-1 majority, but polls showed that people were not necessarily opposed to legalization – voting against it more because they didn’t like the monopoly setup of who would be allowed to sell it.
In its campaign for passage, ResponsibleOhio emphasized the medical aspects of the drug, trotting out little kids with cancer or epilepsy who might be helped by marijuana treatments, while downplaying the hallucinogenic aspects.
The new law takes that part of the campaign off the table, which will make it much more difficult to rally a pro-pot majority to the cause. In fact, shortly after the bill passed the legislature, a group called Ohioans for Medical Marijuana (OMM) suspended a petition effort that had been aimed at getting a more expansive referendum on the November ballot.
That doesn’t mean that the people opposed to legalization for recreational use can relax, however. The camel’s nose is under the tent, and OMM was backed by a national group, the Marijuana Policy Project, which is dedicated to complete legalization of pot nationwide.
They’ll be back. You can count on it.
Meanwhile, let’s give credit where it’s due. Ohio’s legislators put aside party differences and in many cases a reluctance to attach their names to any form of legalization, in the name of common sense.
Borchardt has provided readers with definitive coverage all through the process. But even though she has no illusions after long experience covering politicians, she was also impressed.
“I’ve covered the Ohio Legislature for four and a half years, and I never saw it work on a bill like this,” she said. “It was completely bipartisan, they took it on even though most of them didn’t want to, they were open-minded and open to changes and suggestions.
“That’s the way government should work. It was refreshing.”
News Moderator: Katelyn Baker
Full Article: Medical Marijuana Law Will Help The Sufferers, But Not The Stoners
Author: Ted Diadiun
Photo Credit: Seth Perlman