Following last November’s failure to pass a broad legalization measure that would have legalized a marijuana monopoly, ResponsibleOhio co-founder Jimmy Gould recently said the organization is dead and that the state legislature is the best route to legalize medical marijuana.
Gould was speaking at a press conference following the recent announcement by the Ohio House of Representatives that the state would launch a new medical marijuana task force.
“We spent a lot of money, a lot of time, and we heard what the public said,” Gould said. He, along with colleague and attorney Chris Stock, agreed to join the new task force—as individuals, not ResponsibleOhio.
“ResponsibleOhio is not a part of this; it doesn't exist,” Gould said.
The 15-member Ohio task force includes medical professionals, as well as representatives from business and law enforcement.
Gould told reporters he agreed to put any effort to legalize marijuana on hold for now, according to WOSU Radio.
“Ohio needs medical marijuana, first and foremost and needs it for everything….for chronic pain, for conditions, but it needs to be regulated properly," he said. "It needs to be done the right way.”
House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger said the task force is ready to work and has set March 31 as the deadline for the panel to report its findings, enough time for the legislature to act.
Republican State Representative Kirk Schuring, who is leading the task force, promised that it will find common ground.
People will be holding the task force to its word. After all, public opinion polls have shown that as many as nine out of 10 Ohioans support legalizing medical marijuana.
Karen O'Keefe, director of state policies for the national advocacy group Marijuana Policy Project, welcomed the news of the task force but cautioned lawmakers against enacting legislation that "makes people feel good but doesn't do anything."
“I don't know if God and apple pie have 90 percent approval rating… certainly the lawmakers don't,” O'Keefe told Cleveland.com.
“Suffering is not a partisan issue," she said. "Anyone can be afflicted with one of these conditions and would probably want the option to be available to them and their loved ones if it came to that.”
(Photo Courtesy of ThePostAthens.com)