Ohio’s legal marijuana: What the government really thinks

The DEA deems marijuana to be worse than fentanyl, oxycontin and Vicodin.

Ohio’s legal marijuana: What the government really thinks

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - “Sixteen years ago, while I was giving birth to a son--while healthy and perfect in every way--did not make it. I lost more than half my body’s blood volume.”

Melanie Lemmer’s traumatic loss was only the beginning of her medical struggles.

“That was a catastrophic situation that led to the health events I deal with now: I have rheumatoid arthritis and I have fibromyalgia,” she continued.

Her fibromyalgia would qualify her for a medical marijuana card in 30 states, Ohio included. “A drug that is used to fix a problem in someone’s physiology is medicine, point blank,” she said.

The DEA. begs to differ. It classifies marijuana as a schedule one drug with no currently accepted medical use and high potential for abuse.

Other schedule one drugs include heroin and LSD. By that classification, the DEA deems marijuana to be worse than fentanyl, oxycontin and Vicodin—opioids which have caused tens of thousands of overdose deaths across the country.

By contrast, the CDC does not keep track of marijuana overdose deaths because it says they are so unlikely.

“One of the big problems has always been marijuana has been a schedule one narcotic, and they include cannabinoids and all the useful components--so there’s no long-term medical research."

Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper is well studied on the topic. Marijuana is legal medically and recreationally in his state.

Rescheduling cannabis would be a long, tedious process that would involve evaluations from the Department of Health and Human Services, the FDA, and the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Decriminalizing it on the state level would be far easier. Nine states, plus Washington, D.C., have done so.

All but Vermont did so through a ballot initiative.

One such initiative failed in Ohio in 2015, but could be back on the ballot in 2019. State Attorney General Mike DeWine gave the go ahead for a preliminary measure to get the process started.

"I think states are the laboratories of democracy, so I think those states that want to take and legalize medical marijuana--the federal government should let them do that and they should allow them to do serious medical testing on the possible very beneficial effects" said Hickenlooper.

Another beneficial effect: the economy.

“in Colorado, recreational marijuana is a $1.5 billion industry” noted Hickenlooper.

“This year it’s on track for $300 million in tax revenue, so that’s a large amount of money” said Jack Strauss, professor at the University of Denver.

For all the speculation on the future, medical marijuana patients like Melanie—and many others in Ohio---remain firmly rooted in the present.

“They’re finding efficacy in pain relief and pain management that they weren’t able to find at all, before. And for someone who has to pay her bills and work and can’t afford sick time away--that’s a very very big deal. It has given me my life back. It has given me that ability to function on a daily basis in a way I did not have before.”

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