Should Ohio Consider Legalizing Medical Marijuana?

Feb 4, 2016

Ohio state senators leading an inquiry into whether the state should consider legalizing medical marijuana brought their listening tour to Cincinnati Thursday.

Dave Burke (R - Marysville) and Kenny Yuko (D - Richmond Heights) want to hear what Ohioans think about the idea of decriminalizing cannabis for medical purposes.

Nicole Scholten with Ohio Families CANN says her daughter, Lucy, suffers from hundreds of daily seizures and cerebral palsy. Scholten believes medical marijuana could improve Lucy's quality of life.

"There's a legitimate reason to believe that it has a very good chance of improving her life. Maybe the best chance yet," says Scholten. "She's a kid who has trialed ten different crummy FDS-approved medications, a vagus nerve stimulator, and the ketogenic diet. All FDA-approved. All have failed to improve her situation of hundreds of daily seizures that interrupt learning, happiness and relationships."

However, others like Dr. Jeffrey Goldsmith with the American Society of Addiction Medicine were less supportive of medical marijuana.

"Marijuana is a plant and not a medicine," he told the senators. "It has not passed the FDA review as other medicines have."

Goldsmith says cannabis should be put through those same rigorous testing standards rather than being legalized by the state.

Sen. Yuko is a firm supporter of legalizing medicinal marijuana.

"I've been in favor of this since about 2003 when I first started looking into it," he tells WVXU. "It's an opportunity to take a natural plant and provide a quality of life change for people that are currently suffering day in and day out."

Sen. Burke is less convinced.

"I remain a skeptic," he said before the event. "The federal government has been looking into this product for quite some time and if it was supposed to work, you'd think you would know something by now."

But, he continues, "I also understand that if that was my child, I would probably do anything in my power if it would reduce their seizures and lead to a better quality of life. Or if it was my mother in hospice, wouldn't I want to give her that relief? Because the counterbalance is, as we say in medicine, 'do no harm,' I don't know if marijuana helps, but does it cause harm?"

Cincinnati is the second stop on the four city tour including Cleveland, Columbus and Toledo.