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Pros and cons of Ohio marijuana Constitutional amendment debated



Published: Mon, April 7, 2014 @ 12:05 a.m.

Rights group, Hagan at odds over approach

By Ed Runyan

runyan@vindy.com

YOUNGSTOWN

The Ohio Rights Group has collected about 15 percent of the 385,000 signatures it needs by July 2 to put the Ohio Cannabis Rights Amendment to the Ohio Constitution on the November ballot.

The group’s president, John Pardee of Amherst, said the “army” of people wanting the medical marijuana amendment to pass “is growing by the day.”

Pardee said that ironically may be the reason why state Rep. Robert F. Hagan of Youngstown, D-58th, a longtime proponent of legalizing medical marijuana, has pulled his support for the amendment.

Pardee said he thinks Hagan is looking at legislative options to medical marijuana instead of a constitutional amendment because the Ohio Rights Group has “started making so much noise” with its legalization message that people across the state are “starting to pay attention.”

Hagan has advocated medical marijuana in the past but never got any support, but now things are different because public interest is increasing, in part because of advertisements saying children with epilepsy need marijuana treatment and can’t get it, Pardee said.

“They don’t want to see the people have that kind of power,” Pardee said of Ohioans deciding on whether to legalize medical marijuana rather than government officials.

Hagan said Friday he will partner with Lynn Wachtmann, a Republican state representative from Napoleon, to introduce legislation that would legalize medical marijuana only for children with epilepsy.

Hagan said he’s not in favor of the constitutional amendment approach because “changing the Constitution is a serious issue that has to be vetted,” adding, “It should not be so easy as putting a bowl of soup in a microwave.”

The state-approved ballot language for the constitutional amendment would allow people to use the drug to combat debilitating medical conditions such as cancer, HIV, injury or disease to the spinal cord, severe or chronic pain or other conditions designated by a commission that would be established.

Angela McClellan, director of the Coalition for a Drug-Free Mahoning County, is an opponent of the amendment, partly because of her belief that marijuana is a gateway drug, meaning it leads to use of more-dangerous drugs.

“The data tells us that most people with substance-abuse issues have already used marijuana during their journey to full-blown substance abuse, that marijuana is a step in the process of developing substance-abuse issues,” she said.

McClellan said she would support giving a liquid derived from marijuana to people with epilepsy if it decreases seizure activity.

“But where is the research? And is it safe?” McClellan said.

“If it has medical properties, why not run it through the Food and Drug Administration?” she asked.

Pardee said he doesn’t believe marijuana is the gateway drug some people allege and that prescription-drug abuse may be a more-important precursor to abuse of opiates such as heroin.

Marijuana can, in fact, be used as a “step-down drug” to help people trying to kick a heroin addiction, Pardee said, adding that marijuana is less addictive than coffee, alcohol or cigarettes.

Pardee said the amendment would end discrimination against marijuana users.

For example, it would prevent law enforcement from using a blood test to determine whether a person was driving while intoxicated on marijuana, Pardee said.

A blood test for marijuana is unfair because the active ingredient in marijuana remains in the bloodstream for weeks, compared to hours for alcohol, he said.

McClellan said that part of the amendment would “open Pandora’s box” because the rights of the marijuana user would be protected, but the rights of the rest of society would not.

“Under the amendment, if someone causes an accident, they cannot be tested for intoxication by marijuana,” McClellan said.


Comments

1dtmac(1 comment)posted 5 months, 2 weeks ago

Strange how quickly the debate has shifted from "we can't legalize marijuana, think of the children" to, "we have to legalize marijuana, think of the children". How about "Legalize marijuana and end the war against our brothers, sisters, fathers, mothers, sons and daughters".

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2DACOUNTRYBOY(225 comments)posted 5 months, 2 weeks ago

People stoned on drugs do more shooting. Escalate the carnage by increasing availability.

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3DACOUNTRYBOY(225 comments)posted 5 months, 2 weeks ago

Most if not all people who have pulled the trigger and killed in Youngstown have also consumed milk and alcohol at one time. Alcohol removes inhibitions while milk nourishes. Government intervention in the frreedom to shoot and kill while high on drugs must be stopped? Our prisons must be emptied so they can have the liberty to do as they please? Predators on society must be controlled. If you don't want to go to jail then dont do the crime and wail!

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4Nurse_Midlo(34 comments)posted 5 months, 2 weeks ago

The good rep Bobby Hagan has not accomplished anything is his tenure in public office, and his final days in office will be nothing but a whimper.

Medical marijuana? Is the the most pressing issue facing the Mahoning Valley? What's next, daily service at the airport?

"But honey, just because I'm term limited, that does not mean you can't run -- we can keep the pension in the family!"

His unqualified wife is running for state rep folks!

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5walter_sobchak(1910 comments)posted 5 months, 2 weeks ago

FreedomTruth,
Very poor analogy comparing POW's with prisoners in jail. Enemy combatants, in uniforms, are imprisoned the Geneva Conventions and are hopefully treated per rule for the length of the battle. Prisoners in jail have violated democratically enacted laws of the US and the states and are incarcerated per the penalties prescribed under a violation of the law and as adjudicated by our courts.

The research into the medical use of marijuana has concluded there are little or no quantifiable benefits. For a variety of reasons, such as no dosage standard and varying efficacy of the specific plants involved, it is difficult to prescribe accurately. However, if a person has terminal cancer or some other terminal disease, I can't see a problem allowing them to use it. But, the way it is being put into practice around the country now is a bad road to go down. Way too many unintended consequences.

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6stateline(69 comments)posted 5 months, 2 weeks ago

Lets face it, this isn't about medical marijuana, it is simply a front for people to get high legally. And they are using poor diseased children to push their agenda. I think if they really want to make it medically and help people that could possibly benefit from it, it should be extracted and concentrated in the form of a liquid or pill and should go through standard FDA procedures just like every other Medical prescription drug.

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7stateline(69 comments)posted 5 months, 2 weeks ago

Yup, I mean there is already medical Heroin,medical cocaine and medical Meth that are used throughout the medical community. It all went through the FDA and the right channels. I'm sure if Marijuana was a very valuable medical supplement they would have already had it incorporated into medicine widespread. I mean really, anything you smoke is bad for you regardless. Its not much different from inhaling smoke from a burning wood pile.

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8walter_sobchak(1910 comments)posted 5 months, 2 weeks ago

No, POW's are in prison camp and have no due process of law because they are caught during battle. People in prison are there either because they are found guilty in a court or they plead guilty. Your poor comparison, not mine. Property forfeiture is, once again, quantified as a penalty under LAW! Any raid is legitimized by a search warrant, issued by a judge and executed by enforcement officials (you would call them Gestapo). And, if you believe mandatory drug testing in the workplace is a violation of privacy, you are most certainly incorrect. I would prefer it to be expanded so that anyone receiving government assistance, i.e. welfare, must submit to testing.

I have also seen data on testing and benefits are minimal or non-existent for numerous reasons. Most studies are small, non-controlled groups or are anecdotal in nature. But, I do support the expansion of testing of the various ACTIVE substances in marijuana, in proper research settings and controls, in an effort to quantify the benefits, if any, and develop dosages to truly help people. What is being enacted in the states now is just a convoluted way to legalize it.

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9Jerry(498 comments)posted 5 months, 2 weeks ago

I have asked all the following questions and made the following points before, but never saw them addressed. So I will repeat them here:

If the active components of marijuana have medicinal value, why can they not be distilled and put into a pill, or injection, or inhaler, or skin patch? Why is the discussion about legalizing the SMOKING of pot? Surely there would be more effective and healthy means of administering the drug than rolling up dried leaves in cigarette paper, burning it, and inhaling the smoke into one's lungs? Does grandma really have to toke on a doobie for her glaucoma??

Why do we need to add an 1800 word amendment to the Ohio Constitution, as opposed to simply allowing the State Legislature to do their job and alter the necessary laws and regulations concerning controlled substances and prescription medicines?

If this is about “medicinal use”, why does the proposed amendment contain the following passage?
...... “Eligible residents who make therapeutic use of Cannabis shall have the right to produce their own Cannabis…...”. There is no other prescription “medicine” for which the users are allowed to produce their own.

If this is about “medicinal use”, why does the proposed amendment contain the following passage, making it darn near impossible to legally define “under the influence” for the purposes of legally sanctioning people for activity conducted while impaired, such as DUI:

…………..“An eligible resident shall not be considered to be under the influence of Cannabis for therapeutic use solely because of the presence of active or inactive metabolites of Cannabis in the eligible resident’s urine, blood, tissue, hair or skin or as detectable by any other measure of body chemistry. The legal definition of impairment as a result of the therapeutic use of Cannabis and the applicable testing to determine such impairment shall be based on scientific evidence of impairment.”……………..

If presence in the urine, blood, tissue, hair, or skin or as detectable by any other measure of body chemistry is NOT sufficient evidence to indicate someone is under the influence……then what “scientific evidence” is there? This paragraph virtually ensures that no one will ever be held responsible for doing anything while impaired or under the influence.

This sure looks to me like this whole thing is all about smoking pot to get high, and not getting held responsible for any negative outcomes; using the claim of "medicinal use" as a pretense.

I am not necessarily against the concept of legalized access to marijuana, but I am very much against amending the Ohio Constitution in this manner, and am very suspicious of the actual intent of this effort.

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10Jerry(498 comments)posted 5 months, 2 weeks ago

@thirtyninedollars

I actually read the amendment. It would seem to me that it is you who needs to “remove the veil of ignorance” and educate yourself.

If this amendment is about “medicinal use” they why does it not require controlled medical dispensing systems? Why does it specifically allow home grown pot; a practice which would be totally lacking in quality control standards and completely absurd for a “medicine”. Why does the amendment allow for the smoking of the leaves; which is in itself a highly unhealthy practice and which provides uncontrolled doses? Again, a completely absurd practice for administration of a “medicine”.

What about the remainder of my points and questions that come directly from the actual text of this highly questionable amendment??

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11Jerry(498 comments)posted 5 months, 1 week ago

Thirtyninedollars,
Thank you for you thoughtful insights and civil discussion of the issue. I will assume your attitude is typical of those on your side of this issue.
Jerry

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12Robert_Neville(123 comments)posted 5 months, 1 week ago

Thirtyninedollars,

I am sure that you would agree with Attorney General Eric Holder that drug sentencing is to long for the crime. Lets peel the onion back a little more and take it to the current Heroin and Opium War that is going on in the world. I am sure that Eric Holder would say that this is ok leave those fields alone they are helping people with pain and it is for the Children of the world.

The reason people are not investing in the area the number one reason is the place is on "Drugs" this is the reason open your eyes up 2 out of 4 Adults use a form of drug. The fact is grow up and deal with the pain do not let a pill, drop, or any other form of use be allowed.

I feel that using Children to get a law passed is bull and they really need to look at Colorado, and Washington State. They can not control the killings and the amount of use is out of control. the price for an ounce is 40 Dollars. The money was for a better Education for the Children and so far 3% has gone to the Schools and the future of our "Children". At the expense of the adult generation. I say vote this bill down. I have see friends kill themselves over drug use and it is said!

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13southsidedave(4780 comments)posted 5 months, 1 week ago

Too many tax dollars to be lost if the bill does not pass - Billions of $$$

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14kurtw(848 comments)posted 5 months, 1 week ago

It's all a front. Left-over Hippies like Bobby Hagan trying to rehabilitate themselves with half-baked science and bring Pot into the mainstream- if there's something in Pot good for certain people- and there isn't much evidence for that- let physicians make that decision. I'm sure the chemical in question can be obtained- like other drugs from plants- and quality controlled by the Pharmaceutical Industry and made available to Physicians. But, there isn't much call for that from mainstream circles- It's only the "tie dyed" ones- geriatric Hippies like Bobbie trying, once again as they did in the sixties, to hornswaggle the public with self-serving Horsesh-t.

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15lolztrollz(1 comment)posted 5 months ago

So many things you people fail to understand.

Let's start at the beginning. Who knows why cannabis is illegal?

Why can't it be controlled by the fda? I'll answer this one for you. Just like tomatoes and other plants there are 100s of different variations of each plant. Each plant has a different chemical make up. This goes as far as taste, effect(cannabis is not just about thc, there are a dozen or so other compounds that do different things), size, and appearance. It would cost them too much to test and control every single strain. This is the same reason why big pharmaceutical is spending millions a year to combat all these states trying to pass it medically.

Now let's look at our deficit. Every year it gets worse and nothing is done to help it. Look at Colorado. One "pot" store on opening day sold $100,000. This volume as been consistent since it opened in January. This is the single thing that could balance our budget. The money is already being spent so why not just govern it and tax it like tobacco?

From a farmer's standpoint why grow cotton which takes the whole growing season to mature when you can grow hemp and harvest 2-3 Times in a growing season? Hemp is just as good as cotton but produces 2-3 Times as much.

Inform yourself before mindlessly posting hear say. If you look at pure FACTS you will find no negatives to legalizing cannabis.

What is the single biggest

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16kurtw(848 comments)posted 5 months ago

@ kurtw:" if there's something in Pot good for certain people- and there isn't much evidence for that- let physicians make that decision. I'm sure the chemical in question can be obtained- like other drugs from plants- and quality controlled by the Pharmaceutical Industry and made available to Physicians"

Good point Kurt! Exactly what I would have said myself. My Grandmother, who died many years ago, had a heart condition that required her to take digitalis daily. Digitalis, like most medicines, comes from a plant- the Nightshade- but she didn't grow it herself or pick it in the woods- the oral medicine was prescribed by her doctor in controlled doses (too much can be deadly) and it prolonged her life for many years- she died in her eighties.

Now, think of Cannabis- whatever there is in Cannabis that may help certain medical conditions should be determined and controlled by Physicians and made available as a prescription. Most importantly it Shouldn't be Smoked (the human lungs weren't designed for smoke- only fresh air will do). But, of course, smoking the stuff is the fun part, right! That's where you get your buzz. Which makes me think the whole "Medical Marijuana" offensive is a front to soften the public to accept Pot as a recreational drug. Bobbie and Nanette know what they're doing. Question is: Do We?

P.S. The really ironic part is that the same people- Left Wingers- pushing "Medicinal" Pot Smoking are the ones who impose draconian restrictions on tobacco smokers. I see them in the Wintertime forced to huddle outside because the fanatics won't even allow them the refuge of a separate lounge (where there's no danger of "secondary inhalation" to non-smokers). No, they have to be punished in the name of ideological purity- but Pot Smoking? That's OK because that's something we- the Anointed Ones- like to do- and besides everybody know that Cannabis Smoke in the lungs is healthy. Another Glaring example of Liberal Hypocrisy- One of Many.

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17kurtw(848 comments)posted 5 months ago

What makes me suspicious about all this is that people are making health claims about a drug largely used for recreational purposes- and smoked. If something in Cannabis can help somebody with- say Epilepsy- how would the drug be administered- as a Pill- or would it still be smoked? It's that part of it that concerns me- the connection between the recreational "fun" part of Marijuana and the "serious" medicinal side. Whatever there is in Marijuana that has health benefits- can easily be extracted (as in the example I used- Digitalis from Nightshade) and made available to physicians to prescribe to their patients. I think that model- a closely regulated Pharmaceutical Industry administered by Physicians- has served us pretty well so far and made American Medicine the envy of the World.

Question: These claimed Medical Benefits of Cannabis- Has any of this been researched or tested or is it just more self-serving Propaganda from the Organized Left intent on making their recreational drug of choice palatable to mainstream Americans? (Sorry, Bobbie and Nanette, but I just had to ask!)

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