Group wants to decriminalize marijuana in Toledo

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TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) – A petition drive has begun to decriminalize the use of marijuana in Toledo.

Members of Toledo’s chapter of The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws began collecting signatures on Tuesday to put the measure before voters.

Mary Smith, a spokeswoman for the group, said supporters have collected 2,800 signatures so far and need 3,800 more to get the ordinance on Toledo’s November ballot, according to WTOL-TV, (http://bit.ly/Qr8BL1).

“We’re ready now as citizens to have a fresh, mature discussion about the pros and cons of marijuana use and how our laws reflect that,” said Sean Nestor, who’s also with the group.

The measure, known as The Sensible Marijuana Ordinance, would prohibit police from citing or arresting someone for having, selling or using marijuana. It also would prohibit city prosecutors from trying marijuana cases.

Unlike Colorado and Washington, where marijuana was recently legalized, the ordinance wouldn’t allow for the taxation or regulation of pot.

Supporters say marijuana use is a nonviolent crime and that most people want to use it to relieve medical issues or stress.

Critics say marijuana is a gateway to more serious drugs and that increased access will lead to a spike in youth use.

The drive is separate from a statewide effort to legalize medical marijuana throughout Ohio.

A group called Ohio Rights Group is collecting signatures for a proposed constitutional amendment that calls for a commission to regulate the use of medical marijuana and permit Ohioans to grow industrial hemp for paper or clothing.

Through March 1, the group had collected 50,000 of the needed 385,000 needed to put the measure on November’s ballot.

Twenty states and the District of Columbia already have medical marijuana laws.

In 2012, Washington and Colorado passed recreational laws in 2012 to regulate the growth and sale of taxed pot at state-licensed stores. Sales began Jan. 1 in Colorado, and are due to start later this year in Washington.

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