Marijuana supporters in Ohio still aim to make it legal

While no one is pitching a for-profit plan for recreational marijuana, as ResponsibleOhio did before Ohio voters dumped it last fall, there might be openings in the new proposals to turn marijuana into cash.

The Marijuana Policy Project, a Washington, D.C., group that has been instrumental in the passage of marijuana initiatives in other states, appears to have the proposal with the best organization and funding behind it. If approved, the initiative would allow about 215,000 patients with qualifying medical conditions to use marijuana as prescribed by a doctor; permit patients to grow marijuana for their own use, or buy it from retail dispensaries; restrict the use of marijuana in public places or while driving; and create a state Medical Marijuana Control Division to oversee the system. Ohio would join 23 other states with medical-marijuana laws or amendments in place.

Spokesman Mason Tvert said the initiative would “ensure that seriously ill Ohioans have safe and legal access to medical marijuana if their doctors believe it will alleviate their pain and suffering.”

“It’s time to stop punishing sick and dying people who are simply seeking relief,” Tvert said.

But the proposed constitutional amendment has an element that is raising eyebrows: limiting the number of growers to 15. Although the growers would not be investors who pay millions of dollars to buy into the program — a feature of the ResponsibleOhio plan that voters saw as a fatal flaw — the limit opens the door to criticism that the proposal could be a special-interest bonanza.

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