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"Sprint to Finish" to get Medical Marijuana on Ohio's 2014 Ballot

PHOTO: Time is short for those working to get legislation to legalize medicinal marijuana on the ballot in Ohio in 2014. Supporters need 385,000 signatures by July 2nd. Photo credit: Morgue File
PHOTO: Time is short for those working to get legislation to legalize medicinal marijuana on the ballot in Ohio in 2014. Supporters need 385,000 signatures by July 2nd. Photo credit: Morgue File
March 18, 2014

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Time is short for those working to get legislation to legalize medicinal marijuana on the ballot in Ohio in 2014. The Ohio Cannabis Rights Amendment would allow for the medical, therapeutic and industrial uses of cannabis.

According to the president of the Ohio Rights Group, John Pardee, many Ohioans need this medicine as soon as possible to help alleviate symptoms of chronic conditions, including cancer, multiple sclerosis and PTSD.

"So this is important for our veterans. It's also important for kids with epilepsy and Dravet Syndrome
whose next seizure could be their last," he said. "You know, literally, it's a life-or-death situation."

Dravet Syndrome is a severe form of infantile epilepsy.

The amendment also would create an Ohio Commission of Cannabis Control to regulate the use of medicinal marijuana. Supporters need 385,000 ballot signatures by July 2 to get the measure on the ballot. Pardee said that so far they have about 50,000, and they still need validation. State leaders have opposed legalizing medical marijuana through the legislature, with some concerned it would be abused.

Pardee said the rights group is just now ramping up its signature-gathering operation, and hoping to build needed momentum in the coming months.

"We only have a couple of months to get it, so this is a sprint to the finish for us right now," he said. "And so when the weather gets better we're going to have hundreds of folks out in the streets collecting signatures this spring and summer."

20 states and D.C. have enacted laws allowing the use of marijuana for medical purposes and Florida approved a medical cannabis legalization vote for this November. Pardee said that as political battleground states, Florida and Ohio could be the catalysts for change, adding that they continue to look for national support on the issue.

"We need help from coast to coast. We tell people, 'As goes Ohio, so goes the nation.' And if folks all over America support Ohio, we can do our part to end federal prohibition," he declared.

Last month, a Quinnipiac University poll found 87 percent of polled Ohio voters support the use of medical marijuana.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - OH