A Springfield lawmaker will host a public forum at 6:30 p.m. Monday, seeking input from area residents about proposed legislation to legalize medical marijuana.
Ohio House members could vote on House Bill 523 as early as next week. If approved, it would allow patients to use marijuana for medical purposes but would still prohibit growing or selling the drug for personal use.
The bill would also create a Medical Marijuana Control Commission, which would establish an electronic database to monitor medical marijuana from its seed source through the time it’s dispensed, according to information from the Ohio Legislative Service Commission.
State Rep. Kyle Koehler, R-Springfield, said he remains undecided about whether to vote in favor of the legislation. But he said there’s evidence a majority of Ohioans are in favor of allowing marijuana for medicinal purposes.
Lawmakers are concerned if they don’t write the legislation themselves that an outside group might draft its own legislation, he said, and ask voters whether to include it in the state constitution this fall.
“People need to understand, once it’s written into the constitution, there’s nothing I as a legislator can do to change it,” Koehler said. “When something is written into the constitution, it’s like chiseling it into granite.”
Instead, the bill would allow lawmakers to see how the medical marijuana measure works and make changes if necessary.
Koehler opposed the bill until recently, he said, mostly because the older version would have allowed patients to smoke medical marijuana. That’s no longer the case, he said, and the current bill requires patients to use other means to ingest the drug.
Although he still has some reservations.
“I’m on the fence,” Koehler said. “I want to hear from constituents and I want them to understand what I’m about to vote on.”
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