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Ohio: Patients Would Face New Hurdles Under Senate Medical Marijuana Bill

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The Ohio Senate’s State and Local Government Committee on Wednesday accepted a substitute version of House Bill 523, the narrow and restrictive medical marijuana legislation passed last week out of the Ohio House of Representatives.

“This latest version includes a series of high-cost requirements that will effectively keep many patients from being able to access medical marijuana,” said Aaron Marshall, spokesman for Ohioans for Medical Marijuana. “These mandates coupled with the legislature’s insistence that home grow be prohibited -- and the Senate’s elimination of a medical marijuana discount program for veterans and low-income Ohioans -- cements this bill as a deeply-flawed measure helping very few patients.”

Also changed on Wednesday in the Senate’s new version was language specifying that a patient’s pain must be “chronic, severe AND intractable” to qualify under a general pain provision. Intractable is often defined in medical dictionaries as “having no relief” or “resistant to cure, relief or control.”

“In essentially making the pain threshold intractable, lawmakers are cutting off access to thousands of Ohioans who have severe, debilitating, but not intractable, pain,” Marshall said.

Ohio: Patients Lose Under House Medical Marijuana Vote

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With the Ohio House voting to approve legislation purporting to offer patients access to medical marijuana, Ohioans for Medical Marijuana on Tuesday released a statement rejecting the narrow measure.

“It’s a shame lawmakers couldn’t have made history with a vote on a substantive and meaningful medical marijuana bill,” said Aaron Marshall, spokesman for Ohioans for Medical Marijuana. “Today’s vote will only bring false hope and empty promises to Ohioans suffering from debilitating conditions who need medical marijuana.”

The House legislation suffers from numerous fundamental flaws that would restrict patient access and would take up to two years to be implemented, Marshall said. In addition, the House version leaves many critical decisions to an unelected board that could be stacked with persons openly hostile to medical marijuana.

In contrast, the Ohioans for Medical Marijuana amendment provides access to medical marijuana for thousands of Ohioans immediately upon passage through an affirmative defense and home grow clause and has clear language spelling out regulatory aspects of the plan, according to Marshall.

Ohio: Patients Still Lose Under Latest Medical Marijuana Plan From Legislature

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As state lawmakers unveiled a revised version of HB 523, Ohioans for Medical Marijuana on Wednesday released a statement expressing disappointment with the narrow and restrictive substitute bill.

“The latest version fails to address the critical flaws in the bill that significantly restrict patient access,” said Aaron Marshall, spokesman for Ohioans for Medical Marijuana. “Very few doctors will be willing to enter into a system that doesn’t trust them to make decisions that are in the best interest of their patients and ties their hands with regulatory red tape. With so few doctors participating, patients will not have access to the medicine they need.”

Provisions in the revised legislation require doctors to recommend specific THC levels and strains of medical marijuana for patients. “These kinds of provisions risk putting doctors at odds with federal law, and have significantly hindered the two-year-old medical marijuana program in New York,” said Marshall.

Ohio: Medical Marijuana Initiative Campaign Team Formed

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Ballot issues vet Brandon Lynaugh — who helped lead the campaign against the Responsible Ohio initiative last year — will serve as campaign manager for Ohioans for Medical Marijuana

Ohioans for Medical Marijuana on Monday announced it has formed a campaign team to support its initiative to establish a comprehensive medical marijuana program in Ohio.

Brandon Lynaugh, a veteran of more than a dozen statewide ballot issue campaigns, will serve as campaign manager. Lynaugh most recently served as campaign manager for No On 3, which led the effort to defeat the Responsible Ohio initiative last year.

“We’re excited to have Brandon at the helm of our Ohio campaign,” said Rob Kampia, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), which is supporting Ohioans for Medical Marijuana. “His extensive experience with ballot issues and his history of standing up for Ohioans make him the right person to lead our team. He is committed to establishing a sensible, fair, and compassionate medical marijuana program that will benefit countless seriously ill Ohio residents.”

Lynaugh’s support for establishing legal access to medical marijuana stems from his experience with a close family member who suffers from epilepsy.

Ohio: Medical Marijuana Certified For Ballot; Supporters Prepare To Gather Signatures

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The Ohio Ballot Board on Thursday certified an initiative that would establish a comprehensive medical marijuana program in Ohio. Ohioans for Medical Marijuana must now collect 305,591 valid signatures of Ohio voters by early July to qualify for the November 2016 ballot.

The five-member board reviews proposed ballot measures to ensure they represent only one issue.

Last week, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine confirmed the group submitted at least 1,000 valid signatures of Ohio voters and determined their initiative summary “is a fair and truthful statement of the proposed law.”

The summary and full text of the initiative are available online at https://www.ohioansformmj.org/initiative.

“We plan to mobilize a large group of volunteers, and we’ll be enlisting the help of paid petitioners to meet the state’s sizeable signature requirement in the short amount of time we have,” said Mason Tvert, communications director for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), which is supporting the initiative.

“A lot of our volunteers are family members of patients or patients themselves, so they’re incredibly motivated," Tvert said. "The initiative process isn’t easy, but it pales in comparison to undergoing chemotherapy or witnessing your child have seizures on a daily basis.”

Ohio: Medical Marijuana Initiative Certified By Attorney General; Advances to Secretary of State

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The measure proposed by Ohioans for Medical Marijuana would allow patients with debilitating medical conditions to legally access medical marijuana if their doctors recommend it

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine on Friday notified Ohioans for Medical Marijuana that he has certified the summary of the group’s proposed ballot initiative to establish a comprehensive medical marijuana program and submitted it to the Ohio Secretary of State.

The attorney general confirmed the group submitted at least 1,000 valid signatures of Ohio voters and determined their initiative summary “is a fair and truthful statement of the proposed law.”

The summary and full text of the initiative are available online at https://www.ohioansformmj.org/initiative.

The Ohio Ballot Board will now have 10 days to review the measure and confirm it complies with Ohio initiative laws. Initiative backers will then need to collect an additional 305,591 valid signatures of Ohio voters by early July in order to qualify for the November 2016 ballot.

“We’re pleased with the attorney general’s determination and appreciate his guidance during this process,” said Mason Tvert, communications director for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), which is supporting the initiative. “Ohio is one step closer to adopting a sensible medical marijuana law that ensures seriously ill people have safe and legal access to their medicine. We’re looking forward to hearing back from the secretary of state and getting our petition drive started as soon as possible.”

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Ohio: Medical Marijuana Bill To Be Introduced In State Senate

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Ohio Legislature could debate a medical marijuana bill as early as next month, but it's still unclear whether Republicans, who control the statehouse, will support the legislation.

Sen. Kenny Yuko said he plans to introduce a bill in the coming weeks based on medicinal cannabis laws in 23 other states and the District of Columbia, reports Jackie Borchardt at Cleveland.com. People with certain medical conditions, including seizure disorders and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) could be authorized by their physician to buy and consume cannabis if the bill is approved.

Yuko didn't give additional details about the bill, including who might grow cannabis for the program. He said his bill is a "starting point" and he hopes his Senate colleagues will weigh in so it can be passed before June.

"It's a piece of legislation that most people who are reading it are finding palatable and are supportive of it," Yuko said.

Lawmakers need to pass the bill before they adjourn for their summer break in June, according to Yuko. They likely won't return to work until after the November election, and by then, voters could have already rendered their action moot.

Three constitutional amendments legalizing cannabis for medicinal purposes have been proposed this year. Polls show Ohio voters overwhelmingly support medical marijuana.

Ohio: Ohioans For Medical Marijuana Submit Initiative Petition To State Attorney General

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Backers of a proposed 2016 ballot measure to establish a comprehensive medical marijuana program in Ohio submitted their initiative petition to the Ohio Attorney General on Thursday with more than 2,000 signatures.

The office has 10 days to examine the official summary of the initiative and confirm the petition contains at least 1,000 valid signatures of Ohio voters. The petition will then be sent to the Ohio Ballot Board, which will have 10 days to review the measure and confirm it complies with Ohio initiative laws.

Initiative backers will then need to collect an additional 305,591 valid signatures of Ohio voters by early July in order to qualify for the November ballot.

Ohioans for Medical Marijuana, a campaign committee formed by the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), posted the full initiative text, the official initiative summary, and a Q&A with MPP Executive Director Rob Kampia on its website earlier this week at https://www.ohioansformmj.org/initiative.

“This initiative was drafted to ensure seriously ill Ohioans have safe and legal access to medical marijuana if their doctors believe it will alleviate their pain and suffering,” said MPP communications director Mason Tvert. “The one benefit of not already having a medical marijuana law is that we were able to incorporate the best practices and lessons learned from the 23 states that do have one.”

In summary, the initiative would:

Ohio: Details of 2016 Medical Marijuana Initiative To Be Released Tuesday

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Backers of a 2016 initiative effort to establish a comprehensive medical marijuana program in Ohio will release the details of the proposed ballot measure on Tuesday.

The full text of the initiative will be posted at https://ohioansformmj.org/initiative at 9 a.m. ET, and the Marijuana Policy Project, which helped draft the initiative, will hold a teleconference.

WHAT: Release of 2016 Ohio medical marijuana initiative language and teleconference to discuss the details of the proposal and answer questions from members of the media

WHEN: Tuesday, March 1, initiative text will be posted online at 9 a.m. ET; teleconference at 10:30 a.m. ET

WHERE: Initiative text at https://ohioansformmj.org/initiative

WHO: Heather Azzi, MPP campaigns analyst
Rob Kampia, MPP executive director
Mason Tvert, MPP director of communications

Ohio: 3 of 4 Voters Support Making Medical Marijuana Legal

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About three out of four Ohio voters support amending the state constitution to make medical marijuana legal for patients with terminal or debilitating conditions, according to a new poll by Public Policy Polling.

The survey of 672 randomly selected Ohio voters was conducted February 17-18, just as advocates are preparing to launch a campaign in support of a constitutional ballot initiative to legalize medical marijuana. It found 74 percent of voters in favor and only 22 percent opposed, with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.8 percent.

“It’s become pretty common knowledge that marijuana can be incredibly beneficial in the treatment of a variety of medical conditions,” said Mason Tvert, a spokesperson for Ohioans for Medical Marijuana (OMM), a committee that has been formed to support the forthcoming initiative. “It’s not surprising that a vast majority of voters agree patients should be allowed to consume it if their doctors think it could be helpful.

"There are few laws still on the books that are as unpopular as those that prohibit sick and dying people from accessing medical marijuana,” Tvert said.

OMM is currently working with local advocates to draft the initiative and expects to initiate the petitioning process later this month. If the petition drive is successful, the measure will appear on the November ballot.

“Ohio’s current marijuana policy is antiquated and inhumane,” Tvert said. “We hope to give voters an opportunity to change that this November.

Ohio: Marijuana Policy Project Wants Medical Cannabis On November Ballot

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Marijuana Policy Project has set its sights on legalizing medicinal cannabis this November in Ohio.

Staff with MPP, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit that was behind the successful recreational marijuana legalization drive in Colorado, said they can learn from ResponsibleOhio's failed $20 million campaign to legalize recreational and medicinal cannabis last fall, reports Jessie Balmert of Gannett Ohio. Nearly two-thirds of voters opposed that ballot initiative, which would have handed control of commercial cannabis cultivation to a few campaign investors.

"It's quite clear that voters do not support anything that could be perceived as a monopoly or oligopoly," MPP spokesman Mason Tvert said. Ohio voters in November also approved a proposal from lawmakers to ban monopolies in the state constitution, a response on the marijuana investors behind the ResponsibleOhio attempt to monopolize commercial cannabis cultivation in the state.

MPP didn't back or invest in ResponsibleOhio's failed campaign, but the national group didn't actively oppose it, either. Now, though, MPP seems eager to distance itself from the expensive, futile effort. MPP won't be working with ResponsibleOhio leader Ian James or his political consulting group, according to Tvert.

Ohio: Poll Shows Support For Marijuana Legalization, But Not Issue 3

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A new public opinion poll shows that nearly half of Northeast Ohio residents have tried marijuana, and most support some form of legalization -- but they aren't so sure about Issue 3.

Medical marijuana receives overwhelming support at 83 percent, according to the Baldwin Wallace University Community Research Institute poll released on Monday, reports Jackie Borchardt of the Northeast Ohio Media Group. A smaller majority, 55 percent, favor legalizing possession of marijuana for personal use.

But just 43 percent of respondents said they were likely or very likely to vote for Issue 3, the marijuana legalization measure on the November 3 ballot. About 38 percent said they'd likely not vote for Issue 3, and almost 20 percent were undecided.

"That lukewarm level of support may reflect the complexity of the ballot issue," said Lauren Copeland, associate director of the Community Research Institute and political science professor.

Issue 3, sponsored by "ResponsibleOhio," would legalize recreational and medical marijuana for adults 21 and older -- but commercial cannabis could only be grown at 10 sites belonging to, you guessed it, the wealthy investors who are bankrolling the initiative.

Ohio adults could grow up to four mature marijuana plants in a secure, private area at home, after obtaining a homegrow license.

Ohio: Medical Marijuana Research Center Planned For Grow Site

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A nonprofit cannabis research institute plans to build a $24 million facility in Ohio and offer medical marijuana insurance if recreational legalization measure Issue 3 passes on November 3.

The International Cannabinoid Institute, a new Ohio-based nonprofit, announced on Tuesday it will rent land in Licking County from, you guessed it, investors who are backing the marijuana legalization ballot issue.

Issue 3 would legalize recreational and medical marijuana sales and use, but would limit commercial growing to just 10 sites owned by the wealthy investors who financed the measure.

Opposition has arisen to Issue 3 because of how it limits commercial growing to those who financed the ballot issue, reports Jackie Borchardt of the Northeast Ohio Media Group. The preselection of site owners means that only investors in ResponsibleOhio, the political action committee backing the measure, would get to participate in the new marijuana cultivation industry.

Wealthy investors have contributed more than $20 million to the campaign, which would basically enshrine their marijuana monopoly into the state constitution.

Ohio: Attorney General Looking At Drafting His Own Medical Marijuana Proposal

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Things are getting crazy in Ohio. One recreational marijuana legalization proposal, which appears headed for the ballot, would hand over control of all growing in the state to just 10 companies. And now Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine has said he has staff looking into a medical marijuana proposal which they'd draft themselves.

The proposal would be "very limited" and "tightly controlled," DeWine told Alan Johnson at The Columbus Dispatch. A Republican who opposes recreational cannabis legalization, DeWine wouldn't commit to saying he supports legalizing medical marijuana.

But the Attorney General did grant that there are people who definitely could use it; he said he's having his staff work up a proposal before consulting with state lawmakers.

Staffers are reviewing medical marijuana systems in other states to see if it's possible to set up rules that can't be exploited by recreational pot users, DeWine spokesman Dan Tierney said on Friday, reports Jeremy Pelzer of the Northeast Ohio Media Group. Specifically, Tierney said staffers are investigating methods of administration such as ointments or pills, which don't involve smoking.

Tierney said it's still "far too early" to say if or when DeWine will take such a step. The Attorney General still has "grave concerns" about full marijuana legalization, according to Tierney.

Ohio: 2 Marijuana Legalization Ballot Measures Emerge

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Not one but two proposed ballot measures to legalize marijuana have emerged on Ohio in the past month.

On Thursday, Ohioans to End Prohibition announced the latest, the Cannabis Control Amendment, which would legalize cannabis sales, use and possession for adults 21 and older, reports the Associated Press. The group hopes to get the measure on the 2016 ballot.

Responsible Ohio in December had announced another proposal which calls for 10 authorized growing locations around the state.

Ohioans to End Prohibition Vice President Jacob Wagner said the new measure was different in that it would not restrict those who want to grow marijuana at home for personal use, just commercial sales.

"Any amendment that might consolidate the prospective economic power of a legal cannabis market in the hands of a chosen few is a raw deal for the people of Ohio," Ohioans to End Prohibition President Sri Kavaru and attorney Jacob Wagner wrote in a Thursday press release.

Kavuru and Wagner said in an interview they planned to announce their plan later this year but announced early after reports surfaced that the group was planning an amendment for the November 2015 ballot, reports Jackie Borchardt of Northeast Ohio Media Group.

U.S.: 'I Choose Cannabis and Business' Workshops Slated For Five Cities

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"I Choose Cannabis and Business" workshops have been slated for five cities across the United States in September and October.

Todd Mitchem Consulting, in conjunction with Cannabrand, a full-service recreational cannabis marketing agency, will present the workshops. According to Cannabrand, Mitchem has consulted for Colorado-based businesses including O.penVAPE, as well as mainstream corporations such as Starbucks, Purina, Marriott, H&R Block, Pizza Hut, Google and Nestle.

Targeting everyone curious about the cannabis industry, from entrepreneurs to investors, Mitchem and the Cannabrand team will share information on trends, business processes and legal operations.

With expertise in industry building and accelerating brand growth, Mitchem will lead the presentation and cover topics such as creating a sustainable company structure, constructing scalable processes, requirements for building a national brand in cannabis as well as understanding the unique intricacies of public relations, government relations and personnel management.

"These hands on workshops will appeal to any person curious about the future of this industry, investors wondering what to look for in a possible investment opportunity, or anyone looking to break into the movement of mainstream cannabis business," Mitchem said. "I welcome anyone looking to break into the mainstream cannabis movement which is a big business with an anticipated $2.5 billion market value by the end of 2014."

Ohio: Poll Shows 87% Support For Medical Marijuana

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Voters on Ohio overwhelmingly approve of medical marijuana, according to a poll released on Monday.

The Quinnipiac University poll of Ohio voters found 87 percent support legalizing medicinal cannabis, while only 11 percent oppose, reports Jackie Borchardt at the Northeast Ohio Media Group.

Ohio voters also approve of allowing adults to possess small amounts of marijuana for personal use, but by a much narrower margin, with 51 percent favoring and 44 percent opposed.

Ohioans' views of marijuana are complicated, according to Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Qunnipiac University Polling Institute. "Twice as many voters think alcohol is dangerous than marijuana, and about half the state's voters think the two are equally harmful," Brown said.

Support for legalization is strongest among voters 18 to 29 years old; 72 percent of this age group approve, with just 25 percent opposing. But Baby Boomers and Generation Xers reported higher rates of marijuana usage than younger voters.

"No one should be surprised that support for legalization is strongest among younger voters," Brown said, reports Jim Provance at The Blade of Toledo.

More than half of Ohio voters -- 55 percent -- claimed they'd never tried marijuana.

The poll surveyed 1,370 registered Ohio voters from February 12-17 on land lines and cell phones. The poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 2.7 percentage points.

Ohio: Medical Marijuana Advocates Optimistic For 2014

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Backers of Ohio's third attempt in less than two years to legalize medical marijuana believe that the third time's the charm. They insist their latest effort will be successful, as Michigan's was in 2008.

"There's far more interest in people backing this one, particularly those who want to bring people into the political arena in 2014," said Bob Fitrakis, a member of the Ohio Rights Group, which is behind the latest effort, reports Jim Provance of The Toledo Blade.

Both Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and the Ohio Ballot Board have approved language that would be shown to potential petition signers. But, skeptics point out, its two predecessors also reached that point, in late 2011 and early 2012, and both these efforts fizzled.

Ohio Rights Group members said they know the group will need financial support and probably a wealthy benefactor if it is to be successful at gathering almost 400,000 valid signatures from registered voters in the state.

Five of the six members making up the petition committee of the Ohio Rights Group were also on the petition committees for the 2011 and 2012 efforts, but they say they've learned some lessons along the way.

Unlike the first two medical marijuana petition drives, the proposed Ohio Cannabis Rights Amendment contains the political buzzword "rights."

Ohio: Lawmaker Introduces Marijuana Legalization and Medical Cannabis Proposals

(Graphic: The Weed Blog)By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

An Ohio lawmaker has introduced two proposals, one of which would allow patients with certain conditions to use marijuana medicinally, and another which would provide Ohioans the chance to legalize recreational marijuana at the ballot box.

Rep. Robert Hagan (D-Youngstown) introduced the proposals at the statehouse on Thursday, reports 10tv.com.

House Bill 153 would allow patients to use marijuana to treat medical ailments with their doctor's authorization.

The other measure, House Joint Resolution 5, would provide state residents with the opportunity for a statewide vote to legalize and tax cannabis. The measure is based on Colorado's successful legalization measure from last year, Amendment 64, according to Rep. Hagan's office.

"With billions upon billions spent on the War On Drugs with little progress to show for it, it is time for more sensible drug policy in this country," Rep. Hagan said. "This issue deserves a Yes or No vote by the people."

(Graphic: The Weed Blog)

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