Polls show more Americans like the idea, but new criminal law challenges can arise with legalization
One supporting organization, Ohio Rights Group (ORG), is actively working to get the 385,000 valid voter signatures needed to put the legalization of medical marijuana on the November 2014 ballot. Legalization of medical marijuana can mean potentially safer relief from pain and even last-resort treatment that addresses certain medical conditions for some individuals. However some criminal law issues may remain, even for legal users.
Clearly, the tide of public opinion is changing. As recently as 1990, polls showed that 81 percent of Americans were opposed to cannabis legalization, but a 2013 poll showed 52 percent in favor. Thus, it is not surprising that when Ohio lawmakers returned to work in January 2014, they initiated discussions about the possibility of legalizing medical marijuana. Still, while legalization might reduce the number of overall arrests for marijuana possession, the following new issues can come up:
Physicians are likely to be subjected to scrutiny when prescribing marijuana therapy, and producers and distributors will face thorough examinations as well.
Patients who possess more than a defined amount of marijuana or who turn to non-licensed facilities to obtain their supplies can still face legal consequences.
Although the federal government has chosen to overlook certain practices in states that have legalized medical or recreational marijuana, any activities related to the drug that are still illegal can be subject to federal prosecution as long as the laws do not change.
If a new medical marijuana law is signed into the books in Ohio, anyone involved — including growers, suppliers and users — must proceed carefully within the parameters of the law.