WHAT IS THE NAME OF THIS CAMPAIGN?
WHAT IS THE NAME OF THE AMENDMENT?
The Medicinal Cannabis and Industrial Hemp Amendment
WHERE CAN I READ THE AMENDMENT?
Fear not! The amendment is only 1 full page and you can read it here.
WHO IS BEHIND THIS INITIATIVE?
Grassroots Ohioans- a coalition of patients, professionals, and advocates from around the state who have worked together to craft a rights-based medicinal marijuana initiative designed protect the rights of medical cannabis patients, farmers, and small businesses in Ohio. Sign up on this page and you can be part of our movement too!
IS THE POINT TO RIVAL THE MARIJUANA POLICY PROJECT (MPP)?
We would like to clarify that we are not anti-Marijuana Policy Project and even agree with parts of the language they have proposed – we simply do not agree with their approach.
WHY WAS THIS INITIATIVE CREATED?
The main reason Grassroots Ohioans (the organization) and Grassroots OH (the campaign) were formed is in order to organize Ohio cannabis advocates around sound policies that are in the spirit of what is best for Ohio’s long-term future. We believe that Ohioans were right to reject Issue 3 last year and not only because it constituted an oligopoly, but also because it would have been codified in the Constitution. We believe Ohio’s Constitution is a document meant to house basic rights of citizens and not to specify regulatory structures, as we believe MPP’s amendment does. Science is evolving rapidly in drug policy and we do not believe it makes sense to enshrine pages upon pages of specific rules and regulations, which truly belong in legislation that can more easily be altered when necessary.
For these reasons, we are working to pursue a one-page (available on the website) amendment declaring basic rights to cannabis and industrial hemp. We plan to pursue a citizen initiated statute in tandem, which will fill in necessary regulations; we intend to draft the regulatory language in collaboration with stakeholders from across the State and have begun to reach out. In fact – in true grassroots fashion – our amendment was drafted and then placed on an open Google Doc, which was shared widely, as well as viewed and commented on by hundreds of Ohioans and experts before it was finalized.
Our group does feel that there are certain restrictions in MPP’s language that we believe to represent a potential hindrance to equitable reform, namely:
- A narrow list of medical conditions which would only apply to approximately 2% of the population, while we know science demonstrates cannabis’ efficacy in treating a much broader range of conditions than MPP has allowed for.
- Their restriction to 15 large-scale producers with a $500,000 application fee does sound eerily similar to what we encountered with Issue 3 and we know Ohioans are more weary than ever of special interests. We understand that MPP has said that fee is necessary to get the program up and running without taxes on patients, however, our group questions whether that is the only or best way to finance the medical program. Alternatively, we have written into our amendment that a fair and transparent process must be devised providing equal access and opportunity to participate in the market for potential growers, dispensary owners, and employees alike.
WHO WROTE THIS INITIATIVE?
A coalition of activists collaborated on the creation of the rough draft of the Amendment, then hundreds of Ohioans, as well as experts, were invited to share and comment on an open Google Doc that served as a platform for refining the Amendment prior to finalization.
WHAT IS THE PLAN?
The plan is to collect 305,000 valid signatures by July to qualify for the 2016 ballot via a mixture of volunteer and paid signature gatherers. We plan to also fund a 90,000 signature drive for what is called a “citizen initiated statute”, which would fill in necessary regulations that belong in the Ohio Revised Code, not the Constitution.
WHY WOULD THIS PLAN BE THE RIGHT ONE?
While we know that a degree of regulation is needed to ensure public health and safety, over-regulation – particularly when placed in the Constitution – only serves an obstacle to future progress. We intend to place a basic enumeration of medicinal marijuana and industrial hemp rights into the Ohio Constitution and to collect signatures for a citizen-initiated statute, which would fill in necessary laws needed to regulate commercial production and sales.
This approach is preferable, because a citizen-initiated statute requires just 90,000 signatures and these laws can be altered later legislatively by our elected representatives; efforts that place business licensing regulations and other regulations in the Constitution would require another 305,000 valid signature campaign to put it on the ballot and winning the election would be required to make any changes. When Columbus needed to change to location of one of the casinos, even without opposition the campaign to make a this small edit cost over six million dollars and took a year.
Simply put, this initiative starts with patients and ends with patients, plus it includes the added bonus of increased opportunity for small Ohio businesses and farms to thrive. We believe our Constitution is a place to declare inherent rights of Ohioans and not to enshrine investor interests.
WHO WILL FILL IN REGULATIONS – THE STATE?
We have heard some concerned citizens weary of the State and legislature’s perceived will to enact regulations that restrict cannabis access. The individual rights we are working to add to Ohio’s Constitution assure that whatever legislature is in place, individual’s rights to use the plant are guaranteed. We are also removing Cannabis from Schedule I of the Schedule of Controlled Substances to allow researchers to work with it. Our amendment will ensure a far better situation that we face today.
We are building a grassroots coalition to work with legislators to educate and collaborate around cannabis and the need for access; however, we have been doing this work since 2013 and we are open to continuing to pursue this path so long as legislators and state regulators come around to evidence-based reform. Rather than waiting for that time, we intend to collect signatures for a citizen initiated statute.
WHAT IS A CITIZEN INITIATED STATUTE?
A citizen initiated statute is a regulatory framework proposed by the citizens via collecting approximately 90,000 valid signatures, which would fill the laws necessary for commercial production and supply. We are in conversation with various stakeholders in Ohio to collaborate on the laws needed to come up with what is best for Ohio’s communities. We would love to have your input!
WHY IS NO AMOUNT OF CANNABIS SPECIFIED IN THE AMENDMENT?
Our amendment is flexible because it secures the right to cannabis for medicinal purposes, which is different amounts for different conditions and changes based on advances in science — a specific amount should not be specified in the Ohio Constitution, because it would be difficult to alter if need be. Restrictive regulations would be ruled “unconstitutional” under law specifically due to this amendment.
IS THIS WHAT IS BEST FOR PATIENTS?
As other states have imposed restrictive conditions lists for which roughly 2% of the state population qualifies, there is a huge portion of the patient population that has the potential to benefit from cannabis that is not being touched by those restrictive laws. Our amendment defines medicinal use more broadly, allowing the decision of whether medicinal cannabis is right to the individual and their doctor. Interestingly, states with medical cannabis systems generally experience a 25% drop in opiate overdose deaths; with this amendment, access to this scientifically-proven pain reliever has the potential to make a dent in Ohio’s 46 overdose deaths that occur tragically each and every week.
WILL PATIENTS HAVE TO REGISTER?
Not under our plan. We do not believe a natural medicine – particularly one Ohioans may choose to place rights to in their Constitution – should be treated differently than users of any other medicines. It is an undue burden and an invasion of privacy to require patients to register and carry ID cards, particularly while the federal government holds on to draconian Schedule I prohibition of cannabis.
WHAT ABOUT OHIO’S FARMERS AND HEMP’S POTENTIAL?
We are cognizant and deeply respectful of the role the crop hemp played in our country’s establishment and the potential it holds to help launch us into a sustainable future, as well as the rights of farmers to grow. This amendment would legalize hemp production and commerce.
WHAT ABOUT OHIO SMALL BUSINESS PERSONS?
Our amendment protects the fundamental right for for Ohioans 21-year-of age to participate in a fair and open process for determining business licensing structures. We intend to collect signatures for a citizen-initiated statute to fill in regulations for business licensing that promote small businesses — we guaranteed this by ensuring the right to equal access, ownership, and employment for all Ohioans.
WHAT ABOUT THE CHILDREN?
Our amendment says that:
Residents who have NOT attained the age of majority may be administered medicinal cannabis for use under the direction of licensed physician.” More regulations would be enacted via the citizen initiated statute we are working on drafting now.
WHAT ABOUT RESEARCH?
The amendment addresses this: “Industrial hemp and medicinal cannabis shall be researched, regulated, and promoted by the State in a manner substantially
similar to other agricultural crops. Industrial hemp and medicinal cannabis, in all forms, are hereby removed from Schedule I classification in the State’s Schedule of Controlled Substances on January 1, 2018.”
DOES THIS AMENDMENT PROMOTE DRUGGED ACTIVITIES?
No. It does not authorize “any person, while under the influence of cannabis, to (1) engage in any task that would endanger others or constitute negligence or professional malpractice, or (2) operate, navigate, or control any motorized vehicle or heavy equipment.
ARE DRUG TESTS ALLOWED AND HOW IS IMPAIRMENT DEFINED?
Essentially our amendment does NOT say testing is banned and DOES say that impairment must be determined by science.
Here’s the text:
“An individual shall not be considered to be under the influence of cannabis under Ohio law solely because of the presence of active or inactive metabolites of cannabis in the individual’s urine, blood, tissue, hair or skin, or as detectable by any other measure of body chemistry. The legal definition of impairment as a result of cannabis use, and applicable testing to determine such impairment, shall be based on scientific evidence of impairment.”
WILL PEOPLE BE ABLE TO CONSUME CANNABIS WHEREVER THEY WANT?
Nothing in this Amendment shall interfere with or change the ban on smoking in public places under the Smoke Free Workplace Act passed by Ohio voters in November 2006.
WHEN WOULD THIS AMENDMENT TAKE EFFECT?
This Amendment will take effect 30 days after passage.
IS THE PLAN TO PUT IT ON THE BALLOT IN 2016?
Yes, that is the plan. It is a short timeframe to collect 305,000 valid signatures for the amendment and an additional 90,000 for the statute — we recognize we need a funded petition drive and a grassroots base of volunteers and we are working to secure both. We are, however, taking our campaign one step at a time and not making promises we cannot keep, therefore, we are leaving open the possibility that this campaign would run into 2017 and in addition, that the organization would work long-term on drug policy reform to benefit Ohio, its citizens, and its posterity. Signatures are evergreen, meaning we can continue to collect them for 2017 if we cannot collect enough for 2016.