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What’s in Store for Ohio? Legalization and a New Medical Cannabis Task Force

Ohio’s Issue 3 for legalization failed last November, but Ohio lawmakers are not deterred. The Ohio House leaders created a task force of policy makers, local business owners, members of law enforcement, and a few familiar faces from the ResponsibleOhio campaign in an effort to study how to legalize medical marijuana.

Ohio businessman and ResponsibleOhio founder Jimmy Gould joined the task force, along with Issue 3 author Chris Stock. The members behind ResponsibleOhio were backing a renewed effort known as the Fresh Start Act, but dropped the proposal in lieu of joining the medical marijuana task force.

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The members of the medical marijuana task force are as follows:

  • Representative Dr. Steve Huffman (R-Tipp City)
  • Representative Dan Ramos (D-Lorain)
  • Dr. Brian Santin, Ohio State Medical Association
  • Nick Lashutka, president of the Ohio Children's Hospital Association
  • Former Ohio attorney general Betty Montgomery
  • Chris Stock, author of Issue 3
  • Jimmy Gould, co-founder of ResponsibleOhio
  • Bill Sopko, chair of the Ohio Manufacturers' Association
  • Lora Miller, Ohio Council of Retail Merchants
  • Linda Hondros, Ohio Chamber of Commerce
  • Matt Szollosi, Affiliated Construction Trades
  • Larry Moliterno, Ohio Alliance of Recovery Providers
  • Gary Wolske, Fraternal Order of Police of Ohio
  • Matt Lutz, Muskingum County Sheriff and third vice president of the Buckeye State Sheriffs' Association

The appointment of former ResponsibleOhio members has put many cannabis advocates ill at ease, remembering the lessons learned after last November’s failed legalization attempt in Ohio. Despite a few reservations, however, there’s no denying that the campaign certainly put Ohio firmly in the national spotlight for cannabis endeavors.

Leafly had a chance to speak to Jake Cabrera with Legalize Ohio 2016 to see how these new developments for medical marijuana in Ohio could affect their campaign, for better or for worse. Said Cabrera:

“This could be good because the conversation on cannabis is going in the statehouse, but we’re certainly concerned about the lack of diversity and patient advocacy on the new task force.”

The campaign organizers did say, however, that if there were to be any sort of legislation for medical marijuana in the coming months, they would wholeheartedly support the efforts as patient access advocates.

“We really have to thank ResponsibleOhio for spending $25 million to put this issue in the mind of the electorate, because we get the opportunity to build on that discussion," Cabrera insisted. "We’re hoping eventually, Ohio will get sick of hearing about it and say, hey, let’s just legalize and get it over with.”

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