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US OH: Medical Marijuana

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URL: http://www.mapinc.or...1/n643/a01.html

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Webpage: http://mapinc.org/url/RzL2jRtq

Pubdate: Tue, 01 Nov 2011

Source: Marietta Times, The (OH)

Copyright: 2011 The Marietta Times

Contact:male2('letters','mariettatimes.com'); letters@mariettatimes.com

Website: http://www.mariettatimes.com/

Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/2988

Author: Evan Bevins





Ohioans May Get to Decide Legality With 2012 Vote


Marijuana could be grown and used for medical purposes under a state constitutional amendment Ohio voters may consider in 2012.


The Ohio Alternative Treatment Act recently met initial criteria to allow supporters to begin collecting the more than 385,000 signatures needed to place the issue on the 2012 general election ballot.


The amendment would allow medical practitioners in a "bona fide practitioner-patient relationship" to recommend cannabis as a treatment for qualifying medical conditions. These would include cancer, AIDS, Parkinson's disease, post-traumatic stress disorder and other diseases, conditions or treatments that produce severe nausea, pain or muscle spasms.


Marietta resident Delmar Thomas, 77, said the proposal sounds fine to him.


"I'd go for that," he said. "As long as it's controlled and used for pain, I don't see anything wrong with it."


Meanwhile, Connie Brannan, 50, of Marietta has her doubts.


"I think there are other ways to handle the medical issues," she said.


The concept gives Marietta resident Pat Ralston, 59, pause because of concerns about abuse and addiction, but she said she would want to learn more about it before making up her mind.


"I definitely want to read into it more," she said.


The amendment would allow patients to possess no more than 3.5 ounces of usable cannabis and 12 cannabis plants if they are growing their own. A caregiver or safe access center could grow the plants for a patient but that individual or location must be registered with the state. The possession limits for a caregiver are 3.5 ounces of usable cannabis or 12 plants for each patient with whom he or she is connected.


Safe access centers could have no more than 12 cannabis per patient or caregiver with whom they are registered. Local governments could control the locations of these centers through zoning.


The issue is being backed by the Ohio Patient Network, a group of patients, activists, caregivers and medical professionals. The group's president, Tonya Davis, 48, of Kettering, said supporters have tried for nearly a decade to get the Ohio General Assembly to pass a law allowing marijuana for medicinal purposes, but to no avail.


"They don't have the backbone to do this for us or the courage to do this for us, so we're going to take this to the people," she said.


Davis said she has been diagnosed with pseudohypoparathyroidism, a genetic condition in which the body does not recognize the production of a hormone that controls calcium, phosphorous and vitamin D levels. Treatment has resulted in calcium deposits forming on her brain, leading to severe headaches and risk of dementia and organ shutdown. That and other conditions contribute to chronic pain, she said.


Davis said she does not use marijuana recreationally, but, with the approval of doctors, she has used it to relieve her pain. She believes it can help protect her brain from further damage as well.


"If there's a chance at it, I deserve that chance," Davis said.


Davis said she does not buy, sell or grow marijuana "because I don't want my doors kicked in." She said friends have provided it for her and its use has kept her from turning to OxyContin or pain patches. She said Marinol, a prescription drug containing a synthetic form of THC, the main active cannabinoid in marijuana, does not work for her.


According to the National Cancer Institute, research has shown marijuana can help in relieving pain, stimulating appetite and even inhibiting tumor growth. There have been some clinical trials involving marijuana's use in treating side effects of cancer treatment but not treatment of cancer itself.


While two cannabinoids, active chemicals in cannabis, have been approved by the federal Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of chemotherapy-related nausea and vomiting, cannabis itself is not approved for treatment of cancer or its side effects.


A position paper from the Drug-Free Action Alliance and the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention Association of Ohio notes that while the American Medical Association has called for more research into potential therapeutic benefits of cannabinoid-based medicine, the AMA, FDA and most other national medical groups do not support the use of smoked marijuana as medicine. The group says the FDA, not voters, should determine whether marijuana is an acceptable medication.


As a member of the prevention association, the Right Path for Washington County, an organization dedicated to promoting healthy youth development, will be asked to oppose the amendment, said Cathy Harper, Right Path coordinator. Harper said some of the chemicals in smoked marijuana are carcinogenic and legalizing it, even for medicinal purposes, could send mixed messages to children.


Davis bristled at the idea that passage of the amendment would make marijuana more accessible to children.


"If I put it into the hands of a kid, then I deserve to go to jail," she said.


The amendment contains specific language saying it does not prohibit any penalties for providing cannabis to a minor or exposing a minor to secondhand smoke from cannabis.


Washington County Sheriff Larry Mincks said medical use of marijuana may have been claimed by some people who were the subjects of investigation by his office or the Major Crimes Task Force but it's never been substantiated.


Mincks said he is opposed to the amendment and believes it would fail on the ballot.


"I don't think people want to legalize marijuana. I think you have a minority of people out there who already smoke it and want to legalize it," he said.


Davis pointed to a 2009 University of Cincinnati poll that found 73 percent of Ohioans either "strongly" or "somewhat" favored allowing doctors in the state to prescribe medical marijuana and said she's confident the amendment would pass in a statewide vote.


As the medical director for the Ohio chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, Davis does favor the legalization of marijuana, which she calls a crime without a victim. But she said that day is a long way off and for now she and others are focusing on making it available to people who need it for medical reasons.

MAP posted-by: Keith Brilhart

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