The Ohio House is expected to roll out a medical marijuana proposal today, while the Senate also is winding down its examination of the issue as the two chambers consider action ahead of a potential ballot issue this November.
“I think this is going to be a joint effort,” said Speaker Cliff Rosenberger, R-Clarksville.
The House and Senate have used separate hearings to gather information on the medical marijuana legalization effort.
“I think they’ve got somewhat of a consensus about what we’ll be talking about and what that consensus looks like,” Rosenberger said of the House task force.
Rep. Kirk Schuring, R-Canton, and Sen. Dave Burke, R-Marysville, the point people on the topic, have been in regular contact. Burke has been working on a bill, but as of now, the Senate appears content to allow the House to start the legislative process.
“This will be a publicly driven process reflecting the will of the people,” Burke said. “It’s not about creeping special interests or using the word medical as a marketing tool.”
Senate President Keith Faber, R-Celina, said there is general support in the Senate to take action before June on a measure “narrow in scope.”
“I have concerns about some of the discussions we’ve had,” Faber said of talks with the House. But he hasn’t seen the House version that will be introduced today.
Key issues under debate include whether to allow homegrown marijuana, and whether to allow it to be prescribed in a smokable form.
Polls have shown strong support for medical marijuana in Ohio, and a number of lawmakers would like to take the steam out of efforts to have legalization engraved into the state Constitution via a ballot issue.
Three medical marijuana issues have been proposed as constitutional amendments.
The one most likely to make the ballot is backed by the Marijuana Policy Project, a national group already with a campaign team and successful record in other states.
“I take issue with a proposed ballot issue when the legislature is going ahead and moving forward with the process,” Rosenberger said. “Clearly I think it’s an effort that people don’t really care about the process. They just care about making the money.”
Dispatch Reporter Alan Johnson contributed to this story.