OHIO: John Pardee didn’t see many good options after his son was involved in a near-death car crash in January 2008. Pardee’s son survived, but doctors said he would have to manage the pain from his injuries for the rest of his life. Pardee said his son only had one option — to take opiates, like Oxycontin or Vicodin, for pain management. But with a high potential for abuse, Pardee wondered why there weren’t more options.So Pardee, an environmental consultant, began doing some research and he found a medical alternative, albeit one that is illegal in Ohio. “I found that cannabis has not killed anyone,” he said to a crowd at Oberlin College on Thursday.
Pardee, who is leading the medical cannabis reform movement in Ohio as president of the Ohio Rights Group, discussed what he called the numerous benefits of cannabis use and why it should be legalized for medical and industrial reasons. He said in addition to medical benefits, hemp, which is the non-psychoactive part of the cannabis plant, can be used for food, fuel and fiber. The group isn’t pushing for legalization for recreational use, Pardee said.
Ohio isn’t the first state to consider the legalization of medical marijuana. Twenty U.S. states have medical marijuana provisions, although the drug is still illegal under federal law. Pardee said there has been support in Ohio for reform. The Ohio Rights Group has sponsored the Ohio Cannabis Rights Amendment that, if passed, would allow for the medical use of marijuana and the industrial use of hemp. Proponents for the amendment say that legalizing cannabis for medical and industrial use would raise billions for the government if taxed and would decrease drug-related crimes.
The Ohio Rights Group has already garnered more than 30,000 signatures from registered Ohio voters, but it needs 385,000 valid signatures to get the amendment on the ballot in 2014. That’s where the help of Cheryl Shuman, who has been called the “Martha Stewart of Marijuana,” comes in. Pardee said Shuman was an obvious choice to join the medical marijuana campaign. “She has the biggest megaphone in America today,” he said. “She’s reached literally millions of people. I couldn’t think of a more appropriate person.”