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Ohio: Legislative Leaders Acknowledge Medical Marijuana Issue Isn’t Going Away


COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Legislative leaders and statewide officers weighed in Thursday on how Ohio should address the issue of medical marijuana, with most agreeing that the matter is not going away.

State lawmakers have been examining how to address medical marijuana since Ohio voters overwhelmingly rejected a ballot initiative in November that sought to legalize pot for medical and recreational use. The measure, Issue 3, would have established 10 sites with exclusive authority to grow marijuana, and with profits going to the issue’s deep-pocketed investors.

While the initiative tanked, polls surrounding the ballot issue suggested Ohioans support medical marijuana.

Speaking at a preview session for journalists organized by The Associated Press, Attorney General Mike DeWine said he believed future action is up to the legislature, while noting ongoing clinical trials studying medical marijuana.

Auditor Dave Yost said he supports a tightly controlled medical marijuana law. He said he did not think Ohio needed “a double-blind study to be able to have — at least for, you know, very severe conditions — marijuana or cannabis products available to those that are suffering.”

Secretary of State Jon Husted urged Ohio lawmakers to work with law enforcement and medical professionals to develop a focused approach to medical marijuana, while Treasurer Josh Mandel cautioned that the “devil is in the details” of any approach.

Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel, right, and Secretary of State Jon Husted discuss medical marijuana legalization during a forum organized by The Associated Press, Thursday, Feb. 11, 2016, in Columbus, Ohio. Husted said Ohio lawmakers should work with law enforcement and medical professionals to develop a focused approach to medical marijuana while Mandel cautioned that the “devil is in the details” of any approach. (AP Photo/Andrew Welsh-Huggins)

The four statewide leaders, who are all Republicans, spoke together on a panel at the forum. They each answered questions on their own history with marijuana, with Yost and Husted saying that had used the substance decades ago. DeWine and Mandel said they never have.

House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger, a Clarksville Republican, told reporters he believed a task force that he’s assembled will help determine the right direction for the state on medical marijuana. But Senate Minority Leader Joe Schiavoni, a Boardman Democrat, said Ohio lawmakers have heard testimony over the years and needed to act before additional ballot proposals go before voters.

Backers of legalizing marijuana have been circulating petitions to get initiatives on 2016 ballots.

Other forum participants included Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor, Republican Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor and the leaders of the state’s Republican and Democratic parties.

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