Pubdate: Tue, 24 Mar 2015
Source: Columbus Dispatch (OH)
Copyright: 2015 The Columbus Dispatch
Author: Alan Johnson


An Ohio group backing medical marijuana is lobbying state legislators 
to expand an existing bill for children who suffer from seizures.

Ohio Patients Cann wants to see medical marijuana become part of 
state law, but it would be willing to go to the ballot if necessary, 
said Bob Bridges of Columbus, the organization's executive director.

"This is strictly for patients," he said. "All the other 
organizations appear to have a financial incentive for full legalization."

Bridges, who ran unsuccessfully last fall as a Libertarian candidate 
for state auditor, said lawmakers and average Ohioans might find his 
group's limited approach to marijuana legalization to be a better 
alternative than that of ResponsibleOhio. That group got the go-ahead 
from the Ohio Ballot Board last week to begin collecting signatures 
for a fall vote on a constitutional amendment to legalize marijuana 
for personal and medical use.

"Our efforts are strictly limited to providing Ohio's medical 
patients with access to medicine that will help cure their 
conditions, or at least ease their pain. We urge every Ohioan with 
compassion for the suffering of others to join us in this vital 
effort," Bridge said in a statement.

Ohio Patients Cann would like to see its proposal merged into House 
Bill 33 - medical-marijuana legislation sponsored by a bipartisan 
group of legislators that would legalize cannabis-derived medicines 
for those with seizure disorders.

Rep. John M. Rogers, DMentor-on-the-Lake, one of the bill's sponsors, 
said he met with Ohio Patients Cann but has not agreed to expand the proposal.

"My immediate concern is the kids who have severe epilepsy," Rogers 
said, noting that he was motivated to co-sponsor the bill because of 
the medical problems of a neighbor's 11-year-old daughter. "There's 
about 250 children in Ohio that have similar symptoms or maladies," 
he said. Studies have shown that marijuana oil might reduce seizures 
in children.

"We can open up a dialogue and see if we can address this need," 
Rogers said. "But there are lots of questions to be answered, such as 
who makes the product, and how do you verify who gets it."

Marcie Seidel, director of the Drug Free Action Alliance, said her 
group opposes both medical marijuana and fullblown legalization. 
While the alliance isn't ruling out future use of marijuana in some 
medical capacity, Seidel said products must undergo stringent federal 
research and testing, which medical marijuana has not.

"This decision doesn't belong in the hands of voters or legislators," 
she said. "We've come a long way since the days of snake-oil 
salesmen. Let's rely on research and science."
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom