Here are several key facts to start this conversation. Legally speaking, marijuana possession is a simple minor misdemeanor in Ohio. Most prosecutor's hardly flinch when they see personal use amounts of marijuana in a criminal case. Judges barely punish for possession of "personal use" marijuana. Ohio judges don't have authority to place marijuana offenders on probation or order random urine testing for most minor marijuana possession cases. The fact it is illegal is somewhat of a joke at the criminal justice level.
The medical facts are compelling. Most medical professionals agree that cannabis is an effective herbal remedy for pain management as an analgesic and it ameliorates nausea and vomiting. Many cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy who have never smoked marijuana are on the black market trying to get marijuana for these very reasons. Glaucoma patients know all about the fact it is proven to reduce eye pressure.
Newer research indicates cannabis helps fight "Alzheimers plaques" in the brain more effectively than current pharmaceuticals on the market. Breast cancer researchers are discovering medicinal values of one of the cannabinoids in THC (CBD). Researchers are now discovering that CBD may fight metastasis by blocking the activity of a gene called Id-1 which is responsible for the aggressive spread of cancer cells. There are researchers all across the world now studying cannabis and its cancer-fighting properties.
Finally, in the medical category, researchers do not believe there are any known lung cancer deaths tied exclusively to smoking marijuana. Cannabis, by itself, does not increase the risk of lung cancer according to many medical professionals. However, researchers do believe there is a synergistic effect between smoking marijuana and smoking cigarettes.
The substance abuse professionals tell us that marijuana is not an addictive drug in the sense of chemical dependency like nicotine, alcohol, or narcotics. There is a school of thought that will claim that marijuana may form a psychological dependence or habit in chronic users. Interestingly, there are no known withdrawal side effects from chronic users of cannabis.
Currently, federal law outlaws any cannabis us. States vary under their own laws as to permitting medical cannabis. As of today, there are 13 states that permit medical marijuana, including D.C.
A final fact to consider is how the public feels about legalizing marijuana for medical purposes. According to a 2009 poll in Ohio, an astounding 73% of Ohioans favor allowing doctors in Ohio to prescribe medical marijuana.
Eventually, this topic will be up for a hearty debate in Ohio. There is a "Medical Marijuana" bill pending in the General Assembly now. It is likely to fail for obvious political reasons. As a defense lawyer and non-user of marijuana, I will be the first one to say that you can advocate for medical marijuana without being labeled a "pothead". Ohio needs to get on this train and put medical marijuana up for a vote without politicians worrying about the next election.