The debate for a ballot vote comes to Ohio
The fight over legalizing marijuana for medical use burns on in Ohio. There's a movement to get the issue on the ballot so voters can decide, but opponents say this should be a medical issue, not a political one.
"We have never voted for antibiotics, cold medication, antihistamines, pain relievers, vaccinations. We've never done that," said Marcie Seidel, executive director of Drug Free Action Alliance, a non-profit group fighting the legalization of marijuana.
Dr. Kevin Sabet, a former White House drug control policy adviser, doesn't believe that those trying to push the issue are really concerned about using marijuana for medical purposes. He cites statistics that show only 5 percent of medical marijuana users have a chronic illness.
"Let's make sure that any components within the marijuana plant that have medical purposes are actually delivered and sold in a pharmacy by real doctors. That's what we're trying to promote," Sabet said.
He says they aren't against using marijuana as a medicine, but they don't believe that the current proposals are anything more than a smoke screen to promote recreational use.
"Let's do it in a non-smoke, non-inhaled manner where we actually have a scientific process ruling the day not the political process," he said.
Greg Homer, police chief in the southwest Ohio city of Monroe, says he would have concerns if one of his officers came to work after using marijuana even for medical purposes. He's against legalizing the drug because he has seen the affects it has on people.
"I don't see where it serves a purpose. We've got plenty of pain killers that are controlled and manufactured by the FDA," Homer said.
While there is a legal definition for alcohol impairment, Homer says he's concerned that there is no such standard for using marijuana.
Marijuana supporters say that legalizing the drug could mean added tax revenue for the state, but Sue Thau with Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America says it will end up costing taxpayers more in the long run and points to alcohol and tobacco as proof.
"For every dollar raised in taxes on tobacco and alcohol we have $10 in societal costs that are not covered by the tax revenue," she said.
Thau says daily marijuana use among high school seniors has increased by 20 percent since 2010. She adds that daily marijuana use is rendering teens "un-employable" because they can't pass pre-employment drug tests.
"We need Ohioans to be smarter and more competitive, not stupider and less competitive," Thau said.
Currently, 18 states and the District of Columbia have enacted laws to legalize medical marijuana. Colorado and Washington voters recently okayed recreational use of small amounts of the drug.
"Marijuana is an alternative to some of these deep deep pain patients," said Robert Ryan with the Miami Valley Chapter of NORML, the National Organization of Reform of Marijuana Laws.
He says the issue gets more votes than presidential candidates when it appears on the ballot. He did not know how close supporters were to getting the issue on the ballot this year in Ohio.