Legalization of Medical Marijuana in Ohio Gains Support

Ohio is one of several states that has not moved to support medical marijuana, but organizations and politicians, including gubernatorial candidate Ed FitzGerald, still are hoping to see the measure on a future ballot.

FitzGerald said Wednesday he supports legalizing medical marijuana in Ohio, according to Cincinnati.com. He said the drug, which still is illegal in the state, could help alleviate the suffering of some ill residents.

Marijuana, also known as marihuana, pot, weed, bud, hydro, ganja, bud, cannabis or chronic, has been proven beneficial to some patients in treating pain relief associated with nerve damage, movement disorders, and glaucoma.

Marijuana also has been helpful in suppressing nausea associated with cancer treatments. Additionally, medical marijuana often is used as an appetite stimulant in individuals suffering from HIV, AIDS and cancer.  However, even merely possessing the drug is illegal according to Chapter 2925 of the Ohio Revised Code and could result in marijuana charges.

Possession of the drug in Ohio can result in misdemeanor or felony charges, depending on the amount involved. If a person has less than 200 grams of marijuana in his or her possession, it could be a minor misdemeanor or a fourth-degree misdemeanor charge.

A person convicted of a minor misdemeanor marijuana offense can face a fine up to $150. If a person is convicted of a misdemeanor of the fourth degree, he or she could face a jail sentence up to 30 days, a fine up to $250 or both.

If a person is charged with possessing more than 200 grams of the substance, under Chapter 2925 of the Ohio Revised Code, he or she could face a felony charge. The offense could be punishable as a felony of the fifth degree, felony of the third degree or felony of the second degree.

A conviction for a felony of the fifth degree could include a prison sentence up to 30 days, a fine up to $2,500 or both. If a person is convicted of a third-degree felony, he or she could face both a prison sentence ranging from one to five years and a fine up to $10,000.

A second degree felony conviction carries the most severe penalties, including a prison sentence up to eight years, a fine up to $15,000 or both. The penalties could increase depending on several factors, including the amount involved in the offense.

Some lawmakers, organizations and voters are hoping to see the possession of marijuana for medicinal purposes decriminalized.  According to Cincinnati.com, 87 percent of Ohio voters believe medical marijuana use under the care of a doctor should be legal, based on results from a Quinnipiac University poll.

Efforts to place medical marijuana amendments before Ohio voters lacked enough signatures to qualify for the November ballot. Ohio Rights Group, the medical marijuana coalition with the most momentum, is pushing to have the amendments on the November ballot next year.