Should Ohio be the next state to legalize medical marijuana?
John Pardee says yes, and as President of the Ohio Rights Group, he's leading a grassroots effort to legalize medical marijuana in Ohio by fighting to get the Ohio Cannabis Rights Amendment on the ballot this November.
It's an amendment that would not only legalize the medical use of the drug in our state, but a first for Ohio, it would also allow for industrial hemp.
"…because of the benefits to not only patients to our farms, to our businesses and things like that, we felt it made sense to go ahead and free the entire plant," said Pardee in a sit-down interview at his Amherst home.
John and his wife Linda Pardee explained that legalizing medical marijuana is a controversial fight that became theirs about five years ago when their son got into a near-fatal car accident.
Pardee described his son's conditions saying, "…he had a crushed pelvis, lacerated organs and collapsed lungs..."
Their son, Linda said, now lives in California where he can legally use marijuana to treat continuing symptoms. To have that here in Ohio, she explained, "It's very important. First of all it'll bring my son home. It will allow him to come home, be home with his family… it's also important because I have a lot of acquaintances that I've met during the petition drive and there's a lot of people out there that just need help."
"If someone wants to use it recreationally, it's there now," said John Pardee commenting to those who oppose legalizing marijuana in the state of Ohio, "…it's very safe, it's very popular, it can be used – people don't, you don't get hangovers, you know, from it like people would with alcohol, people don't get violent … it's a matter of educating people."
"It's not this scary thing," he added, "and it is medicine." He went on to say is known to help treat symptoms from Cancer to Crohn's Disease.
Pardee said the Ohio Cannabis Rights Amendment calls for an approved commission that would regulate the use of medical marijuana and industrial hemp, which some are viewing as possible benefits to the state. One of them, Lorain County Commissioner, Ted Kalo.
"A lot of my concerns initially was that it was going to be a lot of people just wanting to smoke pot, let's be honest," said Kalo Friday.
"I support the concept of medical marijuana because it has a few benefits to society," said Kalo. "The medical marijuana part of it is extremely important just as a benefit to those in pain. I'm very involved in the American Cancer Society in Relay for Life and I see people who are going through very difficult times and marijuana is basically a ‘black market item,' illegal, 16 or 17 states and the District of Columbia have legalized at this point by ballot issue. I believe it's a very pertinent issue we have to look at as a society. It's been polling better than 60% in the state of Ohio. People believe that it should be used or at least let it go to the ballot and let the voters decide."
Kalo said as a county commissioner, he's also looking at the revenue it could bring to Ohio, which is a large agricultural state.
"Anywhere from food additives to textiles, you know replacing wood pulp in making paper…" these are ways Kalo further described the agricultural benefits. Speaking to the cities within Lorain County, he also noted tax revenue on medical marijuana and the benefits disenfranchised youth would experience with less being incarcerated for marijuana possession.
Pardee told NewsChannel5 they began searching for signatures about one week ago and need 1,000 signatures to obtain approval from the Ohio Attorney General to make it a state-wide petition. From there, Pardee said they will need over 380,000 signatures of registered voters to put the proposed amendment on the ballot.
As much as there are supporters, there are those opposed to legalizing the drug in Ohio. However you feel about it, you can still view the proposed amendment here .