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Congressman's To Drug Czar: Marijuana Does Not Belong On Schedule I Of The Controlled Substances Act

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Representative Steven Cohen (D-TN)Washington, DC: Representative Steven Cohen (D-TN) is urging the Obama administration to reclassify cannabis under federal law and to acknowledge its therapeutic utility, according to a September 12 letter sent by the Congressman to the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP).

States Rep. Cohen in his letter to Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske: "Marijuana does not belong on schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) alongside hard drugs as ... heroin. There is no evidence that marijuana has the same addictive qualities or damaging consequences as these harder drugs and it should not be treated as such. Similarly, the so-called 'gateway drug' theory has been thoroughly discredited with respect to marijuana. Marijuana ought to be placed at the lowest end of the CSA in accordance with its true risks."

Under federal law, all substances classified as Schedule I drugs under the CSA must possess a 'high potential for abuse' and have 'no accepted medical use in treatment.'

Representative Cohen adds: "I was particularly disappointed that the [ONDCP] dismissed the medical benefits of marijuana. ... We should not deny the thousands of Americans who rely of marijuana ... the benefits that [it] provides. ... I strongly recommend that this administration allow states that have chosen to legalize medical marijuana to enact strong regulations without fear of prosecution. ... [W]e should not interfere with the will of the people to enact these compassionate laws."

Representative Cohen is an outspoken critic of marijuana prohibition. He is a co-sponsor of HR 2306, The Ending Federal Prohibition of Marijuana Act of 2011.

Last Updated on Friday, 16 September 2011 10:43
 

Second Ohio Medical Marijuana Ballot Initiative filed

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On September 7th the Ohio Medical Cannabis Act of 2012 was submitted with 2365 signatures to the Attorney general.  After the signatures are validated by September 16th, the proposed ballot language will have a legal review. The “Ohio Alternative Treatment Amendment” ballot petition was submitted a month earlier but due to a technicality the 2,143 signatures were rejected and are in the process of  re-submitting the petition.

According to a press release about the OMCA  “this proposed initiated Amendment to the Ohio Constitution will establish governmental agencies to regulate cannabis in a manner similar to the system that has successfully overseen vineyards and adult beverages”.  This would be the state’s liquor control board.  This is a different model than the “Ohio Alternative Treatment Amendment” and the HB214 that is currently stalled in the Ohio Representatives Health committee. HB214 is based on the successful Oregon model and the Ohio Alternative Treatment Amendment is based upon HB214.

The Ohio Patient Network urges medical marijuana patients to read both proposal and to submit their own analysis and comments to OPN.

Ohio Medical Cannabis Act

Ohio Alternative Treatment Amendment

Ohio House Bill 214 and similar previous legislation ( HB478SB343, and SB74) has been introduced in the past four Legislative sessions of the Ohio Legislature over the past 8 years. Only once did it have a hearing that was because it had to according to revised Ohio Senate rules.  That was SB343 which was sponsored by a Dayton Senator.

Note that every single medical marijuana ballot has won a higher percentage of votes than any of the presidential candidate:such as Clinton, Dole, Gore, Kerry, Bush, McCain, and President Obama. More than a hundred separate polls have been conducted on medical marijuana in more than thirty states, representing the opinions of more than 50,000 respondents. More than two-thirds (68%) support the medical use of cannabis. Here in Ohio, the support is even higher at seventy three  Percent (73%) !

We also urge you to use our RESOURCES menu to find your state Senator and Representatives. Then contact your Senator and ask them to introduce HB214 and your Representative to ask the Health Committee chairman to schedule a hearing for HB214.  Please send OPN your representative's response using our Contact Us menu. Please consider making a donation to OPN so we can assist the ballot initiative that makes it to the 2012 ballot box.

Last Updated on Saturday, 10 September 2011 14:09
 

MMJ Ballot initiative filed with Ohio Attorney General

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Ohio could be a major medical marijuana battleground next year, as two different initiative efforts aimed at the November 2012 ballot are getting underway and a bill is pending in the state legislature. If Ohio climbs on the medical marijuana bandwagon, it would be the second Midwest state to do so, after Michigan, which approved it via the initiative route in 2008.

Two different initiative efforts are underway in Ohio, and there's pending legislation, too.

A medical marijuana bill, House Bill 214, was introduced in April and has been assigned to the Committee on Health and Aging, but given that a decade's worth of efforts to get a medical marijuana bill out of the legislature have yet to bear fruit, patients and advocates are moving forward with efforts to put the matter directly before the voters.

One initiative, the Ohio Alternative Treatment Amendment (OATA), was submitted to state officials Wednesday with more than twice the 1,000 signatures needed for the Attorney General to take the next step, approving the measure's summary language. That will take place in 10 days. Organizers are already setting their sights on gathering the 385,000 thousand valid voter signatures needed to qualify for the 2012 ballot. They have until May to turn them in.

The OATA would modify the state constitution to allow doctors in a bona fide relationship with patients to recommend medical marijuana and offers protections to patients, caregivers, and physicians alike. Patients or caregivers could grow up to 12 plants and possess up to 200 grams of processed marijuana. Multiple caregivers could store their product in a "safe access center," and growers would be allowed to receive some compensation.

The second initiative getting underway, the Ohio Medical Cannabis Act of 2012 (OMCA) would modify the state constitution to establish government agencies to regulate medical marijuana "in a manner similar to the system that has successfully overseen vineyards and adult beverages," according to an OMCA press release. The campaign has yet to turn in the initial 1,000 signatures and win approval of its summary language, but has delayed because although it has already gathered more than 2,500 signatures, it is making final changes in the initiative's language, said campaign spokesperson Theresa Daniello.

"Both models are good," said medical marijuana patient and activist Tonya Davis. "Ohio patients want a safer alternative. The models are different, but we figure that between the bill at the legislature, and the two initiatives submitting language, we can come up with something that serves patients."

Last Updated on Wednesday, 03 August 2011 13:22
 

Ballot Initiative Rejected and Round two

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This article explains why the first round of signatures was rejected and how to get a copy of the petition so you can jump in and gather signatures to help put medical marijuana on the 2012 Ohio ballot.

Due to an unusual, but entirely legal reason, the majority of the signatures gathered for the first phase of a Medical Marijuana ballot initiative was rejected by Ohio’s Attorney General Mike Dewine.

The error was that some of the petition circulators (including the author) counted what appeared to complete signatures versus the total number of signatures that were in the petition packet. So if a petition packet had 100 signatures and someone signed “Mickey Mouse” and the circulator wrote 99 instead of 100 in the Circulator Statement, the whole packet of 99 good signatures was rejected. The circulator could have lined out the "Mickey Mouse" entry or just entered 100. It is OK to over count but not to under count, strange but that is the rule.

In this link to the instructions, provided by my local Board of Elections, you will find the official instruction on how signatures are verified. It is a big file (5MB), so be patient if you have a slow connection, the important parts are highlighted in yellow. A smaller file (1.3MB) is also available in this link.

So now let’s make Ohio Medical Marijuana a reality and get that next thousand signatures so we can move to the second phase.  f you want to get involved as a petitioner please download and print the PDF file.  Be sure to read the first page carefully, then print as many copies as you can afford and go get signatures.  You will find it a rewarding experience.  Here is the link to the official petition with instructions.

You may want to get several clipboards to make your signature gathering quicker especially in a crowd. Click on picture of the clipboard to get some helpful tips on making the clipboard itself get the message across easier and faster. Get the image so you can make your own sign for your clipboard with this link to the image.

Please send us an email using our Contact Us menu found above so we can help coordinate our efforts.

Last Updated on Friday, 26 August 2011 10:39
 

Ohio Medical Marijuana Ballots and Legislation

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We are very pleased to announce that there are currently two campaigns to put a medical marijuana bill before Ohio voters in November 2012. The Ohio Coalition for Medical Compassion and the Ohio Medical Cannabis Act of 2012 have both drafted legislation that is under review by lawyers. At this time each campaign is asking for feedback on their legislation and also for volunteers to sign-up to gather signatures once the legislation is accepted by the Attorney General.

In addition to the ballot initiatives Ohio State Representatives Yuko, Hagan, Ramos, Foley, Okey, Antonio, and Young have introduced HB 214 modeled after last years House Bill 243. Please use our "Find Your State Rep" link to find your own state representative and encourage them to get on board and support Medical Marijuana here in Ohio. Please email us with your state representatives reply to your request for supporting medical marijuana.

The best thing medical marijuana supporters can do is to volunteer your time for both initiative campaigns when they are ready to collect signatures. Note there is no restriction or issue to gather signatures for both efforts.

You can make a financial contribution to help these reform efforts by using our "Make a Donation" link at the top of this page. We will use the funds to help legalize medical marijuana for Ohioans.

Last Updated on Monday, 08 August 2011 03:14
 


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Medical Marijuana News

Two medical marijuana state governors, Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee and Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire, on Wednesday called on the federal government to reschedule marijuana. In a joint 106-page petition to the DEA, they said states that have passed medical marijuana laws need to be able to regulate its distribution without fear of federal prosecution.