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1 Toke Over The Line At Hearing?

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Columbus- It's an aroma you sometimes encounter at rock concerts.
Maybe the occasional outdoor festival. But marijuana wafting through
the halls of the Ohio Statehouse?

Well, maybe.

That's if Rep. Ken Carano, a Youngstown Democrat, can get assurances
from law enforcement that a guest speaker on his budding
medical-marijuana proposal won't be dragged out in handcuffs if he
smokes it.

Carano's aide, Sara Hall Phillips, said a legislative forum on Tuesday
where medical-marijuana patient George McMahon was scheduled to appear
had to be postponed for fear McMahon would need to use his federally
issued pot and would be arrested.

"We were able to confirm that George McMahon is one of the people
eligible under the federal IND Compassionate Access Program to use
medical marijuana, but he still could be prosecuted under state law if
that's something illegal in Ohio," she said. "He could also be
arrested for possession."

You bet, said Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Ed Schirtzinger.

"I think there was a bill to that effect a few years ago that made
that less than legal," Schirtzinger said.

"I would guess that if he was in a public space here that would be, at
bare minimum, frowned on,"

McMahon is issued a tin of 10 joints, or what he calls "government
cigarettes," each month, which the Texas resident said he smokes at
regular intervals throughout the day. McMahon said he can sometimes
smoke before an event and get through it fine, but he never knows when
he might need to take a toke on the spot to ease the pervasive pain he
suffers from injuries and a genetic disorder.

He said he usually calls the police in the town where he's headed to
fill them in on his situation.

"I tell them I'm not coming to host a pot rally," he said.

Yet McMahon said authorities have grown less tolerant of participants
in his program in the past year or so, and he has no desire to go to

The State Highway Patrol, the lead agency in the matter, says it
doesn't expect to get involved, althought there is another
complication: the Statehouse is a nonsmoking space.

Pubdate: Sat, 11 Oct 2003
Source: Plain Dealer, The (OH)
Copyright: 2003 The Plain Dealer
Contact: letters@plaind.com
Website: Cleveland Plain Dealer | Cleveland, Ohio Newspaper - cleveland.com