A slight majority of Ohio voters support legalizing marijuana for recreational use, but a pollster from Quinnipiac University cautioned against assuming a pot-related measure could pass on an actual ballot. In the latest poll from Quinnipiac, Ohioans supported allowing adults to possess and use marijuana 52 percent to 44 percent, with 4 percent undecided. That’s essentially even with the 51-percent-to-44-percent result the poll measured a year ago. Despite support in Ohio for medical marijuana, activists have struggled to put a legalization measure on the ballot, in part due to poor organization and a dearth of financing. This winter, a group of investors called ResponsibleOhio came forward, promising to invest $20 million into legalizing recreational marijuana this November via a ballot measure. But the proposed constitutional amendment would limit the commercial growing of marijuana to the investors who are backing the measure. They’ve invested another $20 million into developing 10 marijuana farms, including three in Greater Cincinnati.
A second effort to legalize personal use of marijuana in Ohio has begun initial signature gathering that could ultimately lead to a constitutional amendment appearing before voters in 2016. Volunteers for Ohioans To End Prohibition planned to begin collecting signatures Monday at the downtown festivities in Cincinnati marking the opening of Major League Baseball. If the group can collect 1,000 signatures of registered voters, it can submit its issue to the Ohio attorney general for review. Jacob Wagner, OTEP’s vice president and the author of the constitutional amendment language, said the hope is to have enough signatures gathered by next week. OTEP’s proposal differs from one that ResponsibleOhio is hoping to get placed on the November ballot this year. While both would open the door for personal use, OTEP’s would allow for more widespread growing of marijuana than ResponsibleOhio’s plan.
Dozens of activists — including comedian Tommy Chong, Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero and State Representative Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor) — spoke out about the various merits of marijuana at the 44th Annual Hash Bash in Ann Arbor Saturday. In addition to the personal stories of people helped by pot, politicians and members of various pro-marijuana organizations addressed the crowd. Rep. Irwin said he is drafting a bill to introduce into the state legislature that would legalize marijuana in Michigan. Mayor Bernero said he is in favor of seeing the laws changed. “It is a shame that in the year 2015 pot is still politically polarizing,” he said. “A lot of people are still afraid to embrace legalization. I’m proud to say my thinking has evolved.” Chong was clearly the crowd favorite. He joked he’s been to hash bashes throughout the years all over the country – even if he doesn’t remember being at some of them.
Illinois residents have petitioned the state to add more than 20 medical conditions to the medical marijuana program, including anxiety, migraines, insomnia and post-traumatic stress disorder. Petitioners identifying themselves as veterans of Vietnam and Iraq asked that PTSD be included, making emotional pleas for help, according to 269 pages of petitions obtained by The Associated Press through the state’s Freedom of Information Act. Illinois law lists dozens of diseases, including cancer, multiple sclerosis and AIDS, that can qualify a patient for use with a doctor’s recommendation and a state ID card, but it is more restrictive than in other states. The Illinois Department of Public Health must approve any additions to the list. An advisory board made up of patients, nurses, doctors and a pharmacist is reviewing the petitions and will make a recommendation after holding a public hearing May 4.
In an updated policy statement and technical report, “Adolescent Drug Testing Policies in Schools,” in the April 2015 Pediatrics, the American Academy of Pediatrics encourages and supports the efforts of schools to identify and address student substance abuse, but recommends against the use of school-based drug testing programs, often called suspicionless or random drug testing. Proponents of random drug testing refer to potential advantages such as students avoiding drug use because of the negative consequences associated with having a positive drug test results, while opponents of random drug testing agree that the disadvantages are much greater, and can include deterioration in the student-school relationship, confidentiality of students’ medical records, and mistakes in interpreting drug tests that can result in false-positive results. The AAP recommends against the use of school-based drug testing programs because of limited evidence of efficacy and potential risks associated with this procedure. Pediatricians support the development of effective substance abuse services in schools, along with appropriate referral policies in place for adolescents struggling with substance abuse disorders.