Pubdate: Thu, 28 Apr 2016
Source: Dayton Daily News (OH)
Copyright: 2016 Dayton Daily News
Author: Laura A. Bischoff


Patients, Caregivers Say Pending Ohio Bill Has Numerous Flaws.

Even if Ohio lawmakers act swiftly on pending legislation to legalize 
pot as medicine, Ohioans for Medical Marijuana leaders on Wednesday 
said they'll keep pushing to put a constitutional amendment before 
voters this fall.

Patients and caregivers said that the bill pending in the Ohio House 
doesn't go far enough to protect them against losing jobs, will take 
too long to implement, prohibits home grow and fails to provide a 
concrete list of ailments that would qualify someone to get medical marijuana.

Dane Griffith of Columbus said he suffers from an auto-immune disease 
that has left him with chronic pain and a daily regiment of 
medications. He wants medical marijuana as an option.

"I don't want opiates. I don't want to take eight medications per 
day," said Griffith, 25. "It just boggles my mind that (medical 
marijuana) isn't an option that I can talk to my doctor about."

He added that he doesn't believe he should have to uproot to another 
state to access medical marijuana.

"I'm not going to run from a fight. I think the patients in Ohio 
deserve proper care," he said.

Ohioans for Medical Marijuana, which has backing from a national 
group called Marijuana Policy Project, has 300 volunteers plus paid 
circulators in the field collecting voter signatures. The group needs 
306,000 valid voter signatures by July 6 to qualify for the November ballot.

OMM spokesman Aaron Marshall said the proposed constitutional 
amendment covers how doctors may recommend medical pot for specified 
conditions and how Ohioans may grow up to six plants in indoor, 
locked enclosures. The proposal also specifies 15 large grow 
operations of up to 25,000-square-feet each would be allowed, while 
the number of smaller operations of up to 5,000-squarefeet would be unlimited.

A second grassroots medical marijuana group, which lacks national 
financial backing, is pushing another proposed constitutional amendment.

Meanwhile, an Ohio House panel led by state Rep. Kirk Schuring, 
R-Canton, is holding hearings on a bill that would legalize marijuana 
under state law, prohibit home grow, allow doctors to decide which 
conditions and patients merit marijuana, and require physicians to 
regularly report when, why and how they recommended marijuana.

Only 90-day supplies would be dispensed to a patient at a time. The 
bill would also establish a nine-member Medical Marijuana Control 
Commission, appointed by the governor, to regulate and oversee the industry.

Legislative leaders have said they hope to pass a medical marijuana 
bill and send it to Gov. John Kasich in June.

Dana Kovach of St. Clairsville, whose son suffers from brain cancer, 
has advocated for medical marijuana for years. She said even if 
Kasich were to sign the proposal into law this summer, she wants 
Ohioans for Medical Marijuana to press forward because the citizens' 
initiative provides more protections for patients and their caregivers.

But Mike Gonidakis, who sits on the state medical board, calls the 
legislation a "responsible and compassionate" first step.

"Without this common-sense legislative approach, Ohio would be left 
with a Wild West scheme that would only financially benefit 15 
companies as the current ballot language suggests," he said. "Surely, 
we can take our time to get this right the first time where all 
Ohioans can weigh in through their elected representatives."
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom