Wood County to put marijuana to vote, other counties in Ohio are considering putting legalization of marijuana on ballot in 2014

Jodi Abazoski and Jodi Abazoski

Following the lead of states such as Michigan and Colorado, marijuana for medical use could soon become legal in Ohio.

According to the 2014 Wood County Community Health Improvement Plan, medical marijuana will be on next year’s ballot. This is after petitions to take the issue to vote have been going around on campus and in Bowling Green at events like The Black Swamp Arts Festival.

Maj. Tony Hetrick, deputy chief of police, said that marijuana is an issue for the city and they make arrests due to it almost every night.

Still with only three of the 88 counties in Ohio having raised enough signatures to put medical marijuana on the ballot, Hetrick said he doubts that this hot button will see much change next year.

While marijuana use has proven to have some medical uses especially in relieving chronic pain, Hetrick puts the drug proponent’s intentions for legalization to question.

He said that his main concern is that people don’t want it to be legalized for the reason it should.

Some are saying that they are advocating for medical use, when in reality they want the drug legal for easier access to recreational use, Hetrick said.

Hetrick has seen criminal issues surrounding the use of other legal drugs.

“You see that now with prescription pills,” he said. “We’ve arrested people who have gone to multiple doctors to get multiple pills to either sell or abuse.”

He said that while the effects of something like opiates and marijuana are different, marijuana use still has more negative consequences than people think about. In regards to a recent robbery involving three University students, Hetrick said they were looking for two things: money and marijuana.

“The issues are the same with any drug that causes a euphoric feeling,” he said.

Once something is a state approved referendum, it applies to all towns and cities within that state, said Second Ward Council Member John Zanfardino. He said that he doesn’t “expect BG to respond” with any other ordinances if the law is passed. Zanfardino said that the bill would set up a mechanism to dispense the drug.

“If it were to pass, it would probably just play out like it has in other states,” he said.

Zanfardino said that cities could pass corresponding laws to regulate marijuana use in their area. Multiple news sources have reported on the changes that Michigan has gone through since 2008 in regards to the drugs laws. Looking at other states it is reasonable to assume that even if passed, the details involved with medical marijuana’s legalization will be a process.

Hetrick said that one effect of legalized marijuana in Michigan that he has already seen is “higher-grade” marijuana being trafficked in Ohio.

Freshman Molly Closson said she represents a unique position in what can be a heated debate as she is “indifferent” to whether or not marijuana use becomes legal.

“I do feel like if it gets passed [and becomes legal] it almost gives people more reason to use it,” Closson said.

Even though the medical marijuana issue is important for some advocacy groups, many students like Closson don’t care about it because they think marijuana is not a serious drug.

“I’ve never really thought too into it,” she said. “It’s not important to me.”