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Ohio: Legislature's Embrace of Medical Marijuana Bolsters Amendment Prospects

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With the approval of H.B. 523 by the Ohio Senate and expected concurrence by the Ohio House of Representatives, Ohioans for Medical Marijuana on Thursday announced it will move toward the November ballot with the issue of patient’s rights to medical marijuana supported by the Ohio General Assembly.

"This General Assembly has taken a step forward on this issue,” said Aaron Marshall, spokesman for Ohioans for Medical Marijuana. “Their support for medical marijuana speaks volumes for eliminating any remaining biases against allowing doctors to recommend this life-enhancing treatment to patients in need.”

"Our Constitutional amendment builds on the legislature’s work by incorporating national best practices and offers voters an opportunity to enact a law free of the horse-trading inherent in the legislative process," Marshall said. "Our amendment also protects the rights of patients in the Ohio Constitution, not leaving this important issue vulnerable to the reach of special interests."

While the legislative bill clears several important societal and policy-making hurdles, it omits a number of critical issues. They include:

Florida: Medical Marijuana Supporters Sense Impending Victory

Photo - Florida: Medical Marijuana Campaign Gets Financial BackersBy Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Medical marijuana advocates in Florida sense that 2014 will be the year they finally achieve their goal.

"Florida is ready to explode," said Jodi James, executive director of the Florida Cannabis Action Network, reports Mary Wozniak at the News-Press. "We firmly believe that Florida patients will have legal access to cannabis by November 2014."

State lawmakers may be preempted by the people after a medical marijuana bill died in committee in the 2013 legislative session. Sponsor Sen. Jeff Clemens (D-Lake Worth) said last week he plans to bring the measure back for another try next year; he said he could also propose a constitutional amendment to legalize medicinal cannabis.

But if the drive to collect just over 683,000 voter signatures takes off, the matter could be put on the ballot for the voters to decide. The effort had suffered from a lack of resources until political fundraiser John Morgan, who heads up the Morgan and Morgan law firm, recently joined the cause.

Morgan promised to contribute funds from his own pocket, as well as to raise money from other donors to pay for the signature-gathering drive, estimated to cost more than $3 million. Backers believe Morgan's political and financial influence could lead them to victory.

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