With House Bill 523 awaiting Governor Kasich’s signature to become law, Ohio has made monumental progress in cannabis reform over the past few months. The effort represents great strides in patient care and access as one of the driving factors in cannabis policy reform.
GrassRoots Ohioans (GRO) continues forward with the campaign to put the Medical Cannabis & Industrial Hemp (MCIH) amendment onto the ballot. Rather than just representing one of the many factors and constituencies affected by cannabis policy, GRO’s effort is very different in that it’s a “back to basics” approach to enumerating basic, individual rights. This includes patients and patient access as the MCIH gives patients right to plant, grow, and use whole plant cannabis 30 days following the passage of the amendment.
Similar to how the simple enumeration of the right to keep and bear arms is expressed in the 2nd Amendment, the goal is to establish a constitutional amendment under which individual Ohioans may cultivate, possess, and use cannabis for medicinal purposes on their own, with the inclusion of the right of farmers for industrial hemp. Ohioans want to be self-determining in our own health and happiness. Anything granted by the government as legislation may be taken away by the same government. Individual rights are enumerated by the people, not granted by the government.
GRO also maintains that any right attached to a specific regulatory structure as codified into the constitution isn’t really a broad right. It’s a contingent right, which requires voters to engrave a specific regulatory policy into stone in order to obtain that right. The needs may change in the future, which could put Ohioans at risk if the regulation is engraved into the constitution as an amendment not easily changed.
Many people have questioned GRO’s approach because the MCIH doesn’t get into the specifics of licensure, how many plants a person can grow, tax rates, qualifying conditions, doctor reporting requirements, firearm ownership, local zoning, packaging and labeling, dispensary ownership, etc… This is confusing for many people because they have come to expect all of the details to be spelled out in advance.
As we’ve all seen in previous states that have adopted some kind of cannabis policy reform, the fight over various aspects of that state’s regulatory structure has continued long after the voters approved cannabis. For example, California continues to debate the complexities of cannabis policy nearly two decades after passage. Regulation will continue to be a battleground for years to come in Ohio as well. Cannabis is an extremely complex issue that will require lots of continued debate and modification to hundreds of pages of existing laws.
This is why regulation cannot be and should not be coded into the constitution. Science, economics and prevailing political sentiments change, and regulation should be accessible to change with the times and opinions – not engraved forever. That’s a status reserved for individual rights.
Our purpose is to ensure the individual has the right to cultivate, possess, and use cannabis at the plant genus level. That basic right will become more important into the future as judges will refer back to the Ohio Constitution to rule on the many cases that will still come in the wake of HB 523 passing. Our goal is to ensure that we have that basic individual right there to be the guidepost for those case decisions.
Please read the MCIH amendment and help us establish the individual right to cannabis by volunteering and/or donating.