Longtime Supporter Of Medical Marijuana Doubts Recent Poll Will Influence Policy

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The latest Quinnipiac poll shows Ohioans approve of allowing medical marijuana use in the Buckeye state by an 8-1 margin. Yet proposals that would allow medical marijuana use in the Buckeye state have been stalled in the Ohio legislature.

Ed Orlett with the Drug Policy Alliance has been fighting for medical marijuana in Ohio for more than a dozen years. In an interview with Ohio Public Radio’s Jo Ingles, Orlett explains he’s not surprised by the results of the new poll.

"Considering what’s happened around the country, Ohio had to catch up eventually (chuckles). It’s been a gradual trend that seems to be accelerating and it will be very exciting to see what happens from here. And of course we are trying to promote it and encourage medical marijuana with more open mindedness of marijuana in general," Orlett said.

Ingles responded: "Do you think these numbers will have any effect of Ohio getting an issue on the ballot to allow medical marijuana?"

"I am not sure. I don’t see that happening this year or next year," Orlett said. "2016 would be a possibility but it’s just hard to tell. I don’t think, God bless him, that Representative Hagan’s efforts to get a ballot issue or by the legislature will be viable. There are so many other states where there isn’t the conservative hold that Republicans have here that make them much more attractive for resources contributors to support Ohio. At some point, all of these other easier states will have gone and people will be looking around saying, “Gee, why haven’t we done something in Ohio?” and maybe then it will take off.

Ingles: Do you think that’s what is driving these numbers – the fact that we are seeing some states legalizing marijuana, legalizing it outright even, and not having huge problems immediately with it?

"I think that’s a factor plus there seems to be a general overall liberalizing trend. We see that with gay marriage even though we are not involved in that issue. I think that’s part of it. I think it’s just people’s attitudes but unfortunately, the Ohio legislature doesn’t get that," Orlett said.

Orlett says he’s continuing to work on criminal justice issues and sentencing reforms where his group has had some notable success. Orlett says his organization wants to continue to push for what he considers better drug policies but says that push can’t take place too quickly in Ohio.