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Medical Marijuana Bill Takes Root in Ohio

State Sen. Bill Seitz supports concept, but not this bill

By Stephen Carter-Novotni · May 11th, 2010 · News
Depending on how you read the tea leaves, support for some sort of marijuana legalization might be at an all-time high among Americans.

The results of an Associated Press/CNBC poll released in April showed 55 percent of Americans opposed an end to prohibition. But when those polled were asked to compare the hypothetical regulation of marijuana to that of alcohol, 56 percent said marijuana regulation should be the same or less strict than the regulation of alcohol.

In Ohio, Democrat State Rep. Kenny Yuko of Richmond Heights, a Cleveland suburb, recently introduced House Bill 478, which would legalize the use, growth and dispensing of medical marijuana for persons suffering from debilitating conditions including cancer, glaucoma, multiple sclerosis and Crohn's disease.

“This is a very easy remedy for therapeutic relief,” Yuko says.

Yuko would like to see a number of licensed nurseries around the state growing and dispensing marijuana in limited amounts to patients whose doctors have issued them a prescription. He is careful to distinguish his plan from California-style dispensaries, which typically include neighborhood shops operating like liquor stores.

“It’s not about Cheech and Chong,” he says. “The government would control it, and it would be in limited quantities.”

Yuko believes most Ohioans support medical marijuana legalization and cited a few anecdotal tales from his constituents about the benefits of marijuana use in easing a variety of symptoms. There are elderly people seeking to buy marijuana on the street and they live in fear of arrest or a violent encounter on the street, he adds. The alternatives are living with pain or turning to dangerous, addictive narcotics.

“(Then) instead of going to a chiropractor, they wind up going to a drug rehab program,” he says.

Yuko, who has multiple sclerosis, says he’s never used marijuana medicinally or otherwise.

Locally, no state representatives except for Alicia Reece (D-Bond Hill) had their offices return telephone calls on this topic, and Reece herself wasn’t available for comment.

State Sen. Bill Seitz (R-Green Township), who represents the west side of Hamilton County, did offer comments on the bill and says that, while he’s in support of medical marijuana he can’t support this particular bill.

“I would be happy to support it except for one small exception,” Seitz says. “It still exposes people to federal prosecution.”

Seitz notes that even though President Obama announced last year that medical marijuana dispensaries in states that have legalized the dispensaries would not be prosecuted under federal law, these dispensaries are still technically in violation of federal law.

“It’s an enlightened view of the Obama administration,” he says. “But what happens if he has a change of heart or the next administration takes office? While these concerns are perhaps fanciful with the Obama administration, they are not fanciful with administrations that may follow.”

Medical marijuana should be legalized, Seitz says, but at a federal level.

“I’ve read enough of the literature to be convinced that there’s a body of scientific evidence that shows that there are a variety of conditions with which marijuana is an appropriate part of the treatment,” he says.

There’s no rational reason to believe that the legalization of medical marijuana should lead to the legalization of marijuana for recreational use, Seitz adds. He calls this a “bugaboo” that doesn’t follow, comparing it to the use of opiates prescribed by doctors versus the illegal use of opiates by recreational drug users.

Federal lawmakers should make an exception in federal law for medical purposes, he says. Seitz believes that letting states decide on the legality of medical marijuana is consistent with Tea Party values and something he’d like to see that movement get behind.

“I detect a substantial streak of Libertarianism thought in the Tea Party,” Seitz says.

For his part, Yuko says there is an interest in the legislature in the bill but a lack of conviction among lawmakers; he isn’t optimistic about the bill’s passage.

“Obviously you can always hope you can make things happen, but realistically … it’s going to be a lengthy process,” Yuko says.

Kettering resident Tonya Davis, a victim of domestic violence 15 years ago that left her with crippling injuries to her spine and problems with her intestines, is a staunch supporter of the bill. Davis uses marijuana regularly to manage pain associated with her injuries.

“I eat it, I smoke it, I vaporize it, I do whatever I can do,” she says.

Davis relies on persons willing to “compassionately donate” marijuana to her since she fears prosecution if she were to go out and try to purchase it. Marijuana has eased her pain and has fewer side effects than prescribed drugs, she adds. Her experiences with OxyContin and morphine were overwhelmingly bad.

“Even the smallest dose would make me violently ill,” Davis says. “I would be so high I couldn’t drive, I couldn’t think to pay my bills. I had to try something else.”

Davis is shocked that state lawmakers are willing to support gambling at casinos or the rights of strip clubs to operate but are unwilling to recognize her simple, medical needs.

“My use of medical cannabis was so I could be a productive member of society,” she says. “I am really sick and no one can dispute that. I deserve a fighting chance.”



05.11.2010 at 10:17 Reply
First of all the Boston tea party was about protesting being taxed by foreign (british) entities, not taxes itself. by the way, did anybody catch Obama getting back at the tea partiers when he was in Mich. Oh my goodness, he did it with grace. You gotta check the story and you cannot keep hating the man http://bit.ly/cF0Vy2


05.11.2010 at 12:22 Reply
The decision by the people of this country concerning legalization of the marijuana medicinal plant that has been used by humans for thousands of years is based in choosing between two opinions. The first one, articulated by the "father" of marijuana prohibition in the 1930-s and the second one by Dr Grinspoon, one of the leading contemporary experts in this country. These are the the direct quotes from the prohibitionist Harry Anslinger pushing the "Marijuana Tax Act" of 1937 that led to the demonizing of this quintessential medicinal plant: "There are 100,000 total marijuana smokers in the US, and most are Negroes, Hispanics, Filipinos, and entertainers. Their Satanic music, jazz, and swing, result from marijuana use. This marijuana causes white women to seek sexual relations with Negroes, entertainers, and any others.” “…the primary reason to outlaw marijuana is its effect on the degenerate races.” “Marijuana is an addictive drug which produces in its users insanity, criminality, and death.” “Reefer makes darkies think they’re as good as white men.” “Marijuana leads to pacifism and communist brainwashing” “You smoke a joint and you’re likely to kill your brother.” “Marijuana is the most violence-causing drug in the history of mankind.” And this is what Dr. Grinspoon said in 2006 about Cannabis Sativa medicinal Plant: "Cannabis will one day be seen as a wonder drug, as was penicillin in the 1940s. Like penicillin, herbal marijuana is remarkably nontoxic, has a wide range of therapeutic applications and would be quite inexpensive if it were legal". Dr. Lester Grinspoon, professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, Los Angeles Times, May 5, 2006 " These are two opinions the citizens around the country will be asked to compare and to choose from. I do not believe that the choice is exceedingly difficult one. What I believe is that the fear-tactics must be rejected once and for all, and at least medical marijuana should be legalized in all 50 States ASAP.


05.12.2010 at 04:45 Reply
Ohio has a real chance here to lower alcohol consumption which will lower alcohol crime. Having a medical marijuana law, lowering alcohol will make our neighborhoods safer for our kids. 73% of Ohioans want this law and our lawmakers in Columbus are bound by our constitution to do the will of the people but they display cowardly behavior when presented with the opportunity to make a change that will improve the safety of our neighborhoods and neighborhood streets. We need lawmakers that do not cower but do the will of the people. Please stop voting for people that have shown you they do not have the resolve to be your lawmaker and mine.


05.18.2010 at 12:59
If 73% of Ohioans want this Medical Marijuana Law, then why isn't it in effect? Please let me know.


07.22.2010 at 03:05
it isn't in effect ccoopz1 you ingnorant bastard because most representitives dont have the balls to pass it. they are worried more about getting reelected than the poeple's views this is mostly the case in politics


11.08.2010 at 03:25
It is to be infect this April Gentalmen.


11.08.2010 at 03:22 Reply
I agree with wingrider. We have a chance here to make a diffrence in the medical feild. Some people see this drug as evil. Let me ask this. Who do you know that has got violent went off and killed someone becouse they were stoned? Or who do you know who has OD'ed on Marijuana? No one thats who.The only crime that comes from it is that it is illegal and there for a street drug for the time being. You want to lower crime rate? Then legalize it. Anyone who is a pot smoker knows that the effects that come from it are 90% more non violent then alcohol. The other 10% the violence that come from pot is that it is illegal and sold as a street drug,so people are going to kill,and or beat others for the use or profits, not the addiction..becouse there isn't one. I've smoked pot for over 20 years and have quit multiple times becouse of it being work related that it's illegal.Did I withdrw? NO! But I missed it becouse everytime I would be stressed I couldn't smoke.It calms you down it helps for eating disorders,It relaxes the eyes for those with blackcomma,it's a natural muscel relaxer,it helps you to forget about pain,it helps those who arn't sexually active < no joke. And when you have a common cold I don't recommend smoking it becouse it could be harsh on your throat but if you eat it,it will calm your caigh,not alot of people know that but try it.It really helps with a cold.So to all those who read with what I wrote, don't sit and talk about how it should be legelized for medicanol purpose's but go out and vote for it.I beleive it is to be on the ballot this April. Correct me if I'm wrong so others can see when it is to be up for vote.I'll research the day and post it when I find it. THX for reading and smoke one for me.


01.05.2011 at 10:17 Reply
the government controlling it cons-urns me.it shouldn't be priced so high no one can afford it.i think everyone like alcohol.tax it


01.18.2012 at 02:49

i have pancreatic disease and digestive disease, i had a transplant and have had part of my intestines removed. They are always putting me on pain meds and all kids of stuff that damage what other organs i have. I am termally ill due to all of this. I was researching the legallazation of marijuana in ohio because this is the least of the evils in controlling my pain and other symptoms. I don't use marijuana but it would be alot better on my body than methadone and vicodin which i either am on or have been on. The governement is everywhere else in our business why not be somewhere you might just be useful. You can't keep me alive but marijuana would make my time i have on earth more tolerable.