Gov. John Kasich signed, House Bill 523- a plan to legalize medical cannabis, into law making Ohio the 25th state to approve its use.
Veterans across the state of Ohio are optimistic their state is well along their way to full cannabis legalization and the creation of a robust medical program, but there is more work to be done to ensure everyone has equal access under the law.
"The direct effect of passing this legislation is that thousands of Ohio veterans and disabled citizens still do not qualify for the required certification under the bill's stringent medical condition process," said Jake Cabrera Chief Organizer of Ohioans to End Prohibition (OTEP/Legalize2016) and the president of Central Ohio NORML,
"Many Ohioans feel like they are in a 'hollow place,' but recognize the war is not close to being over with the passage of this bill," added Cabrera, who rallied thousands of veterans across Ohio to collect signatures for the bill.
As a result of the whirlwind, petition, approval & passage of the Ohio legislation, the medical cannabis community still has work to do to prevent looming medical ethics violations. Not included within Ohio's newest legislation are true protections for medical patients, such as veterans, who consume cannabis. Employers, including the Ohio government, can drug test & fire cannabis patients removing their ability to qualify for unemployment compensation.
"Though we are dialed in with the mission of legalization, under this legislation many of the citizens within my state would be left on the battlefield screaming for help and forced to commit medically unethical and possibly criminal activities to medicate," said Shane O'Neil, vice president of Weed for Warriors Project Ohio. "A system that places these stringent burdens on the patient/ physician relationship every ninety (90) days to re-qualify for care, after the initial certification, will promote distrust and force patients into an exhausting situation to receive medication," added O'Neil, who served as a U.S. Marine and is the father of a disabled child.
Advocates are already working on a legal remedy.
"Eventually we will file a federal lawsuit. Veterans across Ohio are affected by the same injuries as veterans in the other 49 states. This a federal workforce-created injury and it is medically and legally unethical for legislatures to fail to act with foresight to prevent the desperate impact of their laws upon the entirety of the disabled population," said attorney Brandon L. Wyatt, a former U.S. Army Paratrooper. "Veterans across the state need to continue make it a priority to volunteer enthusiastically with leaders like Jake Cabrera, and recognize that the legislature's bill will be much easier (~90k signatures) to ratify versus a state constitutional amendment (~305k signatures)."
Meanwhile, on Friday, July 18, 2016, in Cleveland, Ohio citizens, the veterans organization Weed for Warriors Project, including Sean Kiernan; and Ohioans to End Prohibition, among others, will rally together at the Republican National Convention to voice solidarity regarding the opioid suicide epidemic, and press their demand that veterans medical rights are equally applied and protected in all 50 states.
Source: Weed for Warriors Project