Legislature continues to stall on improvements to state marijuana laws

 

Last update: May 28, 2015

 

Despite the popular support among Ohio’s residents, the Ohio Legislature shows no sign it is interested in crafting a workable medical marijuana program for seriously ill patients. In a 2013 Pew Research Poll, 77% of likely voters indicated they believe marijuana has legitimate medical uses. This year, the only bill presented would allow very limited access to cannabidiol (CBD) — which is one of the dozens of cannabinoids in marijuana. Not only has the bill failed to advance since it was presented in February, without substantive amendments it is largely unworkable even if it were to pass. The measure relies on doctors to write orders for patients to receive CBD, but does not allow patients to be in possession of even trace amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). In addition, the bill does not authorize the cultivation or processing of marijuana plants, which would be necessary to obtain CBD.

While so far this session the legislature has not presented bills that would substantively improve marijuana laws, there are several efforts to place a measure before voters through the voter initiative process. At least three such efforts have been given authorization to begin the signature collection process for the 2015 election in November.

MPP believes that marijuana prohibition has failed and should be replaced with a system that regulates marijuana like alcohol. As with alcohol, different states will adopt different approaches to regulation. We encourage voters in Ohio to consider their options and decide for themselves which measure they wish to support.


Marijuana laws in Ohio

 

Possession of less than 100 grams (or about 3.5 ounces), giving 20 grams or less of marijuana to another person, or growing less than 100 grams of marijuana are each considered  “minor misdemeanors,” punishable by a maximum fine of $150. A minor misdemeanor is not a “jailable” offense, but a person’s driver’s license can be suspended for a period ranging from six months to five years.

While Ohio’s marijuana penalties are less draconian than its neighbors, law enforcement officers are still wasting valuable time and resources. In 2012, Ohio officers arrested or cited 14,374 people for marijuana-related offenses, 94% of which were for possession only. At the same time, 91.6% of all reported burglaries — including home invasions — and 90% of all motor vehicle thefts went unsolved. It’s time law enforcement stopped wasting time punishing adults for choosing a safer alternative to alcohol. Let your lawmakers know it’s time to allow adults to make the safer choice.


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