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Lawmakers Tout Need For Medical Marijuana

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Ganjarden

Nug of the Month: Aug 2008
Lawmakers took to the microphone at The Lemon Grove Café Monday to discuss the merits of legalizing medical marijuana.

The evening was part of the Lemon Grove Town Hall Forum.

"What we have going on is not a rally or any kind of debate, but an enlightened discussion on the legality of marijuana," Harver said. "What does it mean for our culture? What does it mean for our prison system? What does it mean for our judicial system? And what does it mean for our medical system?"

Harver told the audience that the idea for the evening came to him after reading an article in The Vindicator after State. Rep. Bob Hagan, a Democrat from Youngstown, signed on to a bill in the Ohio House of Representatives for medical marijuana.

"It seemed like a fitting discussion topic for our Monday Discussion Series, which we do just about every Monday on various subjects," he said. "But we've never had a response like this before."

Hagan and State Rep. Kenny Yuko (D-Richmond Heights) spoke about House Bill 478, which would amend the Ohio Revised Code to permit the use of "marihuana" by a person with a "debilitating medical condition."

Yuko is the bill's primary sponsor, with Hagan, and State reps. Mark D. Okey (D-Carrollton), Mike Foley (D-Cleveland), Vernon Sykes (D-Akron) and Dan Stewart (D-Columbus) signed on as co-sponsors.

According to the bill, "debilitating medical condition" includes cancer, Chrohn's disease, Alzheimer's disease, sickle cell anemia, AIDS, HIV, Hepatitis C, multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injuries or a "chronic or debilitating disease or medical condition or its treatment that produces" severe or chronic pain or nausea, seizures or severe or persistent medical spasms.

Yuko described Hagan as a colleague.

"It takes guts, courage, conviction to stand up like Bobby Hagan," Yuko said.

Yuko said he and Hagan do not have the support of the Ohio Legislature to pass HB 478.

"Do Bobby and I have the support in the Statehouse? If I stood here and told you, 'Yes,' I'd be lying through my teeth. We don't have the support because it takes guts to stand up to something like this and it doesn't always happen that way."

Hagan says, "The people of Ohio are for medicinal marijuana, prescribed by a doctor." Hagan cited a poll that indicated 65 to 70 percent of Ohioans were in support of medical marijuana.

"A person like myself who grew up in a family of 13 brothers and sisters who understood that when you grew up in Youngstown you had to have compassion for people," Hagan says. "And when I saw some of the people who came into my office in wheelchairs, when I saw that the people who came in with MS and I saw people that came in who had tried everything so desperately to try to relieve the pain that they had and could not find it anywhere else, then I knew that I had an obligation."

In 2005, Hagan sponsored legislation as a state senator, Senate Bill 74 or Ohio's Medical Marijuana Act. Both bills were intended to permit medical marijuana use by people with any "debilitating medical condition" and required identification cards.

Hagan made a joke about using marijuana during his opening remarks, but during a Q&A session, Hagan clarified that he does not smoke marijuana, noting he is subject to drug testing through his employer, railroad company CSX.

Tonya Davis, founder of the Medical Marijuana Action Network, also spoke Monday at the Lemon Grove. She detailed permanent injuries from abuse and other medical condition that led to her need for medical marijuana.

"Do I deserve to go to prison or jail? I used to take 78 pills a day to survive. When I started using medical marijuana, and I'm very fortunate, I live in a town where they don't have a problem with, but there are a lot of folks where their towns do a problem with it, my town uses common sense," Davis says. "When I could use medical marijuana, I was able to eliminate 30 of my 78 pills a day."

The first person to come to the microphone during the Q&A was Hagan's opponent in the Democratic Primary for the 60th District on May 4, Don L. Hanni III.

Hanni said he would support the passage of medical marijuana, but said he would "go a step further" if elected. He proposed legislation that would legalize and tax marijuana. Yuko responded, telling the crowd that legislation should be realistic.


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Source: Valley24.com
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Website: Lawmakers tout need for medical marijuana