State Rep. Bob Hagan introduced legislation Thursday to legalize marijuana statewide and an additional bill that would legalize the drug for medical purposes.
Hagan, D-Youngstown, introduced legislation last year to legalize marijuana for medical purposes, but it stalled in the Health and Aging committee. Hagan had opposed legalization statewide as recent as December, when Washington state legalized the drug.
The joint resolution for statewide legalization would allow voters to decide if they want to legalize the drug and tax it in the same fashion as alcohol. The resolution, modeled after legislation that legalized marijuana in Colorado, would allow anyone 21 years or older to purchase, grow and use the drug.
Marijuana would be sold by licensed dealers registered with the state and be subject to a 15 percent sales tax.
“With billions upon billions spent on the war on drugs with little progress to show for it, it is time for more sensible drug policy in this country,” Hagan said in a statement. “The new revenue the state receives from a marijuana tax could go a long way in restoring cuts to public education and our local governments. Such a significant question should be answered through a constitutional amendment on the ballot. This issue deserves a ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ vote by the people.”
The other bill, House Bill 153, would legalize marijuana for anyone with a chronic or debilitating illness, such as cancer, Chron’s Disease or sickle cell anemia, Hagan said.
Anyone who qualified as a registered patients with the state health department would be allowed to grow and use marijuana. The person would obtain written permission from their physician that the patient would benefit from marijuana use.
They would then be approved by a board of four doctors and three patients that would be appointed by the Health Department director and serve for two-year terms.
Seventeen states have legalized medical marijuana.
“In addition to the studies that show marijuana to be a valuable treatment option for chronic pain, nausea and seizure disorders, I have heard countless stories of how cannabis has made a difference in the lives of people who are sick or dying,” Hagan said in a statement. “This is an issue that receives overwhelming support from Americans – Democrats, Republicans and Independents. It is time for Ohio to pass medicinal marijuana and stop punishing people who are sick and in pain.”