A Quick Analysis of MPP’s Ohio Medical Marijuana Initiative
While members of the Ohio state legislature are reportedly wasting time on a fact-finding tour to determine the best possible way to legalize medical marijuana across the state, the Marijuana Policy Project, a national advocacy group responsible for bringing legal weed to a number of states, has revealed the language of their ballot initiative aimed at putting the question of medicinal cannabis up to the voters in the forthcoming November election.
Similar to the 23 states and the District of Columbia that have already legalized the leaf for medicinal purposes, the MPP’s proposal, campaigning under the name “Ohioans for Medical Marijuana,” would allow patients suffering from “debilitating conditions” to purchase cannabis products from a number of “licensed and regulated” dispensaries all over the state.
The initiative indicates that patients with “cancer, glaucoma, positive status for human immunodeficiency virus, acquired immune deficiency syndrome, hepatitis C, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, agitation of Alzheimer’s disease, post-traumatic stress disorder, or the treatment of these conditions; a chronic or debilitating disease or medical condition or its treatment that produces one or more of the following: cachexia or wasting syndrome; severe debilitating pain; severe nausea; seizures, including but not limited to those characteristic of epilepsy; severe and persistent muscle spasms, including but not limited to those characteristic of multiple sclerosis” and other approved conditions would be allowed access to medical marijuana as long as they have a recommendation from a licensed physician.
Residents would also have the ability to petition the State of Ohio for additional conditions.
As far as home cultivation is concerned, any patient holding a medical marijuana card would be allowed to grow up to six plants for personal use and be in possession of up to 2.5 ounces of weed. All home cultivation sites would be required to be kept in an “enclosed, locked space,” and not in the form of gardens in public view.
If approved, people with qualified conditions would be protected from being “arrested, prosecuted, penalized, or be sanctioned; be denied any right or privilege; or be subject to seizure or forfeiture of assets for the medical use of marijuana” beginning in December 2016, with patients having the ability to register for participation in the program by summer of 2017.
“This means that patients can begin submitting applications for ID cards for themselves and their caregivers in August 2017, which is a fast turnaround as compared to other states,” said the MPP’s executive director Rob Kampia, pointing out that patients in New Hampshire had to wait two years before the state issued medical marijuana cards.
Ohioans for Medical Marijuana estimates that 215,000 patients would benefit from a state run medical marijuana program. This statistic is based on the percentage of the adult population holding medical marijuana cardholders in states like Michigan.
The Cost of Doing Business
For those parties interested in cultivating, distributing and selling medical marijuana, expect to pay some hefty fees just to be considered for the limited amount of licenses. Large commercial grow operations — basically 15 licenses allowing around nine acres — would be required to pay a $500,000 application fee, while medium sized growers would cough up $5,000. The organization claims the money generated from this aspect of the program will make it more affordable for other areas, like patient ID cards.
“Because [business fees and patient ID card fees] combined must pay for the administration of the entire medical-marijuana program,” Kampia said, “We need a lot of money to flow into the program quickly, in order to pay for its administration sooner rather than later.”
Last year, a group by the name of ResponsibleOhio launched a controversial initiative intended to bring down Ohio’s prohibitionary standard in its entirety. However, unlike the proposal put forth by the MPP, their plan was to create an oligarchy marketplace where only their 10 producers would be permitted to get in on the business side of the action. Although the public opinion polls showed the majority of Ohioans supported the concept of medical marijuana, ResponsibleOhio’s proposal failed miserably during the election because most voters found what they were trying to do a slap in the face of free trade. The MPP has obviously used RO’s failure to devise its most recent plan, focusing solely on medical marijuana for the best chance at getting their initiative passed in 2016.
Organizers with Ohioans for Medical Marijuana must collect 305,591 verified voter signatures before July 6 in order to qualify for a spot on the November ballot.
What you think? Does medical marijuana have a chance in Ohio this time around?