Pubdate: Fri, 29 Jan 2016
Source: Dayton Daily News (OH)
Copyright: 2016 Associated Press
Author: Ann Sanner, Associated Press


Ohio Group Faces Spring Deadline to Complete Work.

COLUMBUS (AP) - Members of a task force charged with exploring 
medical marijuana legalization in Ohio expressed a willingness to 
learn more about the issue as the panel met briefly for the first 
time on Thursday.

Many task force participants at the Statehouse meeting said they 
would keep an open mind, though some acknowledged their biases.

"I do come to this room with the very strong feeling that we need a 
very well thought-out medical marijuana program," said Jimmy Gould, a 
founding member of a marijuana legalization initiative that voters 
rejected last fall.

Bill Sopko, board chairman of the Ohio Manufacturers' Association, 
said he was on the panel to find out more about medical marijuana. 
Still, he told his fellow panelists, "Our members are concerned 
because we employ hundreds of thousands of people."

State lawmakers have been weighing how to address medical marijuana 
since Ohio voters overwhelmingly rejected a ballot initiative in 
November that sought to legalize pot for medical and recreational 
use. While the initiative tanked, polls surrounding the ballot issue 
suggested Ohioans support medical marijuana.

The task force created by Ohio House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger 
includes House members, a former attorney general and representatives 
of law enforcement, the Ohio State Medical Association and others. 
Rosenberger has said he wants as many facts and perspectives as 
possible on medical marijuana before taking any action. He gave the 
panel a spring deadline to complete their work.

Rep. Kirk Schuring, a Canton Republican leading the task force, said 
he would let people on all sides make their case on the issue.

"I come here with no predisposition," Schuring said, as he kicked off 
the group's roughly 20-minute meeting.

Rosenberger, a Clarksville Republican, has said the task force is not 
a stall tactic to deter legalization proponents from taking the issue 
to the 2016 ballot.

Three legalization efforts are being discussed for the swing state's 
ballot this November. Two would legalize marijuana for most uses. The 
Washington, D.C.-based Marijuana Policy Project also plans a 
constitutional amendment to establish a medical marijuana system 
similar to those in 23 states and the District of Columbia.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom