Pubdate: Sat, 23 Jan 2016
Source: Columbus Dispatch (OH)
Copyright: 2016 The Columbus Dispatch
Author: William T. Perkins


The start of 2016 brought some changes to the landscape of Ohio's 
marijuana legalization efforts - including the arrival of a national 
organization that wants Ohio to be the 24th "medical marijuana state."

That group, The Marijuana Policy Project, announced this week that 
they are working on an initiative to legalize the drug in Ohio, and 
looking for an organizer to head up operations in the state. "The 
2016 campaign ... is focusing only on medical marijuana, which enjoys 
a high level of support among Ohio voters," according to the D.C. 
group's website.

Their initiative would allow individuals with "serious medical 
conditions" to purchase or grow marijuana with a physician's permission.

According to their website, the group is "supporting" legalization 
initiatives in Arizona, Massachusetts and Nevada, and is part of a 
coalition of groups campaigning for legalization in California.

"They're a very powerful group," Marcie Seidel, executive director of 
the Drug-Free Action Alliance said. "And just (promoting) medicine 
rather than the full legalization, people are sort of softer to that."

Meanwhile, ResponsibleOhio, the group behind last year's failed Issue 
3 ballot proposal to legalize marijuana for personal and medicinal 
use, will not pursue a ballot this year, despite earlier assertions. 
The issue failed 64 to 36 percent in November.

Instead, their co-founder Jimmy Gould announced earlier this month 
that he will focus his energy on the Ohio House's marijuana task force.

Activists from yet another group - LegalizeOhio, which wants to 
legalize marijuana for both personal and medicinal use - say their 
operations are expanding even though Sri Kavuru, the former director 
of the group, stepped down from his position this past week. He said 
after a year of serving at the helm of the group, he wanted to take a 
smaller role.

"I'm sure that my voice and opinions are going to be well heard," he said.

They are currently circulating petitions for their initiative, which 
they hope to get on the November election.

Kavuru he said they likely wouldn't be opposed to working with the 
Marijuana Policy Project if that proposal gains traction.

"My opinion is very positive," he said. "We have not had any 
conversations about their initiative. We've all been courting some of 
the same donors and we're very excited that a national organization 
finally realizes the need for marijuana legalization in Ohio."
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom