Opinions clash over legalizing marijuana

Discussion in 'Marijuana News' started by Superjoint, Sep 28, 2002.

  1. By Russ Kent
    News Journal


    MANSFIELD -- There's an age bias in north central Ohio when it comes to loosening laws on marijuana.

    "I don't think it should be legal," said Dave Keller, 67, of Mansfield. "It's been illegal for years. There must be a reason for that. Just because people keep smoking it doesn't mean it's OK."

    Congress banned marijuana in the United States in 1937.

    Ron Abraham, 71, doesn't think it's time to change a thing. "We should just stick with the laws we already have,"Abraham said.

    But 47-year-old Joyce Crall of Ashland resides on the other side of the fence.

    "I don't think it's any worse than alcohol, which is legal," she said. "There are a lot more people who abuse alcohol than there are people who smoke marijuana."

    Mike Roberts, 24, of Mansfield agrees.

    "I really don't see the harm," he said. "Some of my friends smoke it and I don't see that it's hurt them at all. Is smoking marijuana any different that drinking beer? I don't think so."

    Twelve states, beginning with Oregon in 1973, have reduced penalties for pot possession and its recreational use from a felony to a misdemeanor with fines as little as $100.

    Several other states and some cities are considering loosening some of their marijuana laws. An Arizona issue would reduce penalties for possession of up to 2 ounces of marijuana. A new law, if passed in Nevada, would eliminate the threat of arrest for adults 21 and over who possess and use up to 3 ounces of marijuana. It also would require the state to implement a regulated marijuana market and allow seriously ill patents to obtain marijuana at a lower cost than nonmedical users.

    John Precup admits he regularly uses marijuana.

    "But I'm not a criminal," he said. "I use marijuana because it's the only thing that can stop the nausea I have on a daily basis."

    Precup is president of the Ohio Patient Network and has multiple sclerosis. He's an advocate for the medicinal use of marijuana.

    Diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1986, Precup woke up one morning with "bed spins."

    "I spent three days in bed and then another seven days in the hospital," he said. "I couldn't keep anything down. I lost 15 pounds in 10 days. They tried a lot of different things to stop the nausea. None of them worked."

    He then said he remembered jokes from the old Cheech and Chong movies about marijuana causing the munchies.

    "I thought if I smoked I might be able to eat," he said. "Five minutes after I smoked, the nausea was gone. I consider it a miracle. Ever since, that's the only thing that controls it."

    He said a prescription drug called Marinol contains the same ingredients as marijuana and also can control his nausea. For about two years it has been available to him. Before that, it was only available for AIDS or cancer patients.

    "It helps," he said. "But sometimes I can't keep it down. And because it's a pill, I have to wait 45 minutes before it can take effect. The marijuana provides almost instant relief. All I'm trying to do is to maintain my quality of life."

    Precup says a bill to make the medicinal use of marijuana legal in Ohio is slowly working its way through Congress.

    "Right now it's in the Legislative Services Committee," he said. "I don't expect anything until after the elections. But I think something good will come out of it. At least we're a lot further along now than we've been before."

    Nine states, mostly in the West, have legalized cultivation and use of small amounts of marijuana by AIDS, cancer, glaucoma and epilepsy patients with a doctor's authorization.

    Information about the Ohio Patient Network and the proposed bill are available on the Internet at www.OhioPatient.net.


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