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The Buckeye State's first stab at some kind of marijuana legalization went down with a — sorry for this — puff of smoke last year, with the Issue 3 weed bill losing out at the polls 63 percent to 36 percent
That said, the swing-and-miss has at least ladled some legitimacy onto the issue. Rumbling into 2016, both houses of the state legislature are trying to find their footing on when and how Ohio will legalize. So what exactly does that mean for the future of legal weed here?
Over at the Ohio House, Speaker Cliff Rosenberger has tapped Canton Republican Kirk Schuring to lead a 15-person task force. Announced last week,
this group will focus on hammering together a medical marijuana proposal by the end of March. Recreational use, however, is a no go with this crowd.
“We might hear something we might have never heard before, so I’m not going to get into predicting the outcome at this time,” Schuring told the Canton Repository
. "We’re really here at a special point right now where we have a timeout and we’re going to have a conversation.”
But the group is already taking some flak. Among the task force: members of ResponsibleOhio, the group behind the Issue 3 push. Is the House task force the open-minded skull session as advertised? Or will is just come back with a rehash of Issue 3? "They're policy people," a medical marijuana activist told Cleveland.com
. "They're not patients, they're not medical people. The task force needs someone with greater knowledge."
Schuring did not return our call last week to chat about the task force.
Across the capitol building, the Ohio Senate is also getting in on the discussion, albeit in a completely different way. Cleveland.com reports
that Senators Kenny Yuko and David Burke are going to travel the state to learn more about legalization for medicinal cases.
Yuko, who hails from Richmond Heights, has long been ahead of the game on the issue. As a member of the house seven years ago he introduced a medical marijuana bill. After the Issue 3 failure last November, Yuko quickly sent a letter along with Senate minority leader Joe Schiavoni to state house leaders asking for a legislative effort on behalf of the issue.
"Two facts emerged from this year’s election cycle: Ohioans strongly oppose monopolies in our Constitution, but they also overwhelmingly support access to marijuana for medical purposes," the letter stated