While I am not against the use of medical marijuana if it is used, dispensed and administered the proper way, there are problems with this bill that caused me to vote no.
First, my district overwhelmingly responded to news articles in papers and social media by saying they do not want this. My first duty is to represent the people, which is why two weeks ago I reached out to allow a comment period. The calls to the office, emails and letters were all in the significant majority, against this. Not only did my district say no, no one has called my office proactively asking for this.
Second, there are no medical studies that show medical marijuana has health benefits. I have read much that show personal testimonials, however, there are no official longitudinal studies, as are done with other drugs, which show unbiased and long term use and benefits.
Third, the bill allows for smoking of medical marijuana in a vapor form. I know of no other medical drug that is smoked. However, I find many studies that show smoking is bad for one’s health and second hand smoke can also cause problems. While there may be disagreement on these issues, there is certainly research to back it up.
Fourth, this bill establishes an un-elected board of people to manage the entire state operation. These appointed board members represent big, unelected government with no accountability to the people. There will be three people appointed by the Speaker, Senate President and Governor. The people will have no say. Once people have ascended to these types of positions, they become relatively untouchable and unresponsive to the will of the people. Putting this in the hands of the entire general assembly would have been a better option, rather than centralized in the hands of three, already powerful seats in government, only making them more powerful.
Fifth, the bill allows for advertising of medical marijuana in various venues. While it does prohibit television and radio, it still allows for billboards, other forms of outdoor media, social media advertising, and the like. Rarely do we allow for the advertising of drugs which drives people into their doctor to request if not force the doctor to prescribe. If the patients do not get what they want, they ‘doctor hop’ until they find a doctor who will fold to their wishes. I do not see any reason to allow advertising of this.
Sixth, it will not be dispensed through the normal channels that other drugs currently follow. This bills creates retails stores. Why not go through the traditional method of a pharmacy where the patient, doctor and pharmacist all work in unison to ensure the patient is getting the proper dosage, understands the risks and cross checks drug interaction. The way this bill reads now, a patient could be on several drugs from the pharmacy and get marijuana from these “retail” outlets and there is no single source of managing patient care.
Seventh, this bill sets up taxes specific to this drug. I feel these taxes serve to make government bigger.
Eighth, the entire operation of growing, processing, labs and retail outlets are controlled and managed by an unelected board appointed by political parties. The money generated from these operations will serve to flow back into the political party and government officials that are supportive of the operation. The State of Ohio seems to be setting up an entire industry that will generate income and potentially drive the profits into the political bank accounts of the people that wish to ensure its survival. I see that as cronyism and corruption. No industry should have such a direct link to government nor be able to “kick back money” into the campaign accounts. R.C.3796.13 of the bill specifically states this unelected commission can suspend or revoke licenses for any reason.
Ninth, the people of Ohio just voted medical marijuana and this industry in another form, down on the last ballot cycle. I realize that constitutional proposal was different and had many negative factors different from this bill, however, the reason the people denied this has many similarities.
Tenth, marijuana is a hallucinogenic drug. Other drugs in this category specify no operation of a motor vehicle. I can find no provisions in this bill where a person using medical marijuana should not drive. In the 1970’s marijuana had a 5 percent hallucinogenic content. Today’s has 35 percent which is the same as LSD. If a person cannot drive under other hallucinogenic drugs, why do we want them operating a motor vehicle if under the influence of this drug? If a person feels the need to use it, they should be advised to restrict their driving until they are off the substances for a specified period of time, as we do now with other drugs of a similar nature.
Eleventh, it requires the establishment of a program to promote the use of medical marijuana to veterans or the indigent. (RC 3796.07) Why does this bill require the establishment of a program to promote marijuana use to any segment of the population? Is it the government’s job to be in sales and marketing for a product or service; especially one such as this? Does the government require and force the advertising of Vicodin or other drugs?
While I understand that medical marijuana may have serious benefits for some folks, and there are many good and well thought out ideas in the bill, these 11 points made it impossible for me to vote yes. I think with time, trials and proper testing and using our traditional, patient, doctor and pharmacist model, this may be an option down the road. I appreciate all the input from the district on this matter.
Nino Vitale (R-Urbana) represents Ohio’s 85th House District, which includes Champaign, Logan and Shelby counties.