Last Update: October 6, 2014

Will the legislature make a better choice than continuing failed policy?

While Ohio currently lacks protections for seriously ill patients who use marijuana as a medicine, Rep. Bob Hagan has introduced legislation to change that. Rep. Hagan’s HB 153 would allow patients to use and grow marijuana, or designate a caregiver to grow for them. His proposal is similar to programs in place in 23 other states and the District of Columbia. While HB 153 received a committee hearing in May 2013, it has not been scheduled for a second hearing by the Health and Aging Committee — a necessary step for the bill to advance. If your representative is a member of the committee, we strongly urge you to send a message to ask that HB 153 be set for a second hearing.

Medical marijuana programs are overwhelmingly supported by Americans. A Pew Research Poll in April 2013 showed that 77% of respondents believe marijuana has legitimate medical uses. It’s time for Ohio to stop punishing those who benefit from the use of medical marijuana to alleviate their debilitating medical conditions.

Rep. Hagan has also introduced a resolution, HJR 6, which would enable voters to establish a taxed and regulated system that would take marijuana off the criminal market, legalize it for adults aged 21 and older, and tax and regulate it similarly to alcohol. As with HB 153, it received a hearing earlier in 2013, but has not received a date for a second hearing. Click here to send a message to your representative and senator to support taxing and regulating marijuana for adults.

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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Marijuana Policy Project
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