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Medical Marijuana Momentum -- Next Stop: Ohio

Two different initiative efforts aimed at the November 2012 ballot are getting underway in Ohio and a bill is pending in the state legislature.

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That would be great for patients like Chad Holmes, who underwent chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery for colon cancer, resulting in the removal of much of his digestive tract. He used medical marijuana to counter the side effects of nausea and severe pain, and found it to be the only medicine that allowed him to eat, maintain his strength, and function.

"Medical marijuana didn't cure me, but it allowed me to survive the cure long enough for it to work," he said. He has now been cancer free for over six years.

"Ohioans like Mr. Holmes face a terrible choice," said Daniello. "They can choose to suffer with the horrible, debilitating effects of their illness, or risk arrest and years in prison for using medical marijuana to relieve their pain and suffering."

But if either the legislature or the voters act, that dilemma for medical marijuana patients will be resolved. Look for a lot of action on medical marijuana in the Buckeye State in the next few months.

Money will be key. Peter Lewis, founder of Cleveland-based Progressive Insurance and a significant drug reform funder, issued a request for proposals for action on medical marijuana in May, but neither group appears to have offered one. Day said she thought Lewis had turned his attention elsewhere, while Daniello said her campaign would likely contact him later.

"We're accepting support," Daniello said. "We had less than a week to respond to Peter Lewis's call for a request for proposals, and we decided that wasn't enough time. We need to show that we can act in a professional manner before we go back."

National presidential election year politics could help stir major funder interest, Daniello suggested. "2012 is a presidential year, and, as they say, as goes Ohio, so goes the nation," she said. "If the proper people realize that, the funding will come in."

It will have to for either of these initiatives to have a serious chance of making it to the ballot.

Read more of Phillip S. Smith's work at the Drug War Chronicle .

 
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