Home Social Justice Medical Marijuana Continues to Divide Ohioans

Medical Marijuana Continues to Divide Ohioans

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For the last decade, the debate over medical marijuana and a state’s right to legalize it has heated up.

Opponents say marijuana is a dangerous drug causing crime, gang-related violence, poverty and more serious drug addictions. Proponents, on the other hand, claim marijuana is a far safer alternative to pain and nausea relief than other more typical medicines.

Medical marijuana, however, has gained traction as an acceptable alternative medicine over the past several years.  There are now 17 states that allow medical marijuana dispensaries and six more could be added to that list after next Tuesday, including Ohio neighbor Pennsylvania.

In both 2011 and now in 2012 there were initiatives to put medical marijuana use on the ballot in Ohio.  Both failed, however, from a lack of signatures.

Though the 2011 proposal reached over the 1,000 signatures needed to get it certified, it appears many Ohioans simply do not care enough about the issue to sign the petition.

The Ohio Medical Compassion Act was certified in October of 2011 and was called the Ohio Alternative Treatment Amendment. The main sponsor of the act was Tanya Davis, President of the Ohio Patient Network and the Medical Marijuana Director for Ohio NORML.

“This initiative would have created a compassionate, community medical center,” said Davis.  “The zoning board, if it was approved, would have zoned the center appropriately; then it would have kept it out of socially unacceptable places such as schools and churches.”

The marijuana would have been for medical consumption only.

In order to get it, it would require a doctor’s signed prescription, which would not have been very difficult for someone with a serious medical condition.

“I’m terminally ill, and I should be allowed the right to use whatever my doctor says is safe to use,” said Davis.  “I have got massive calcium deposits on my brain and severe hypocalcaemia and pseudohypoparathyroidism.  In laymen’s terms, my thyroid and my parathyroid don’t work and I just pee out any nutrients or minerals that I need to survive… but it’s [marijuana’s] effectiveness is all very proven; my doctor’s say that it’s safer than oxycontin.”

Not everyone sees eye-to-eye with Davis, however, and opponents are afraid medical marijuana would make the drug easier to access, particularly for teens.

“I think it would make too much marijuana available to kids in the community,” said Montgomery County Sheriff Phil Plummer. Plummer also expressed concern for driving while high off of marijuana.

Yet, Davis says she believes the benefits of medical marijuana far outweigh the potential costs, especially since the drug doesn’t have the negative side effects  pharmaceutical drugs currently on the market have.

“There’s no reason to deny someone a safer alternative.  I deserve a fighting chance as should thousands and thousands and thousands of others,” said Davis.

According to a study by the University of Cincinnati, approximately 73 percent of Ohio registered voters support the “compassionate use of cannabis,” said Davis. It’s just a matter of making it an issue that’s directly important to them.

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