Cannabis columnist Mary Jane Borden has written 100 articles for the Columbus Free Press. MedicateOH is honored to share this celebration and look back at her work:
The Columbus Free Press & Mary Jane’s Guide
100. Five score. Ten tens. One Hundred. Centuple. Centenarian. Let’s face it 100 is a vast number and a big deal. It represents a milestone that that spans over 20 years, from the dark ages when cannabis was contraband to the enlightenment when the plant emerged as a legal $1 billion Ohio maket.
Mary Jane Borden, who writes the “Mary Jane’s Guide” column for the Columbus Free Press, has been on a mission to legalize medical marijuana in the State of Ohio. These 100 articles, both in print and online, document the process and its progress. Her a goal is to, “To ensure that Ohioans are the smartest, best informed and most effective advocates for the cannabis plant.”
The Columbus Free Press was founded 1970 as a progressive underground newspaper that offered a voice to the antiwar movement after the Kent State killings. The paper evolved over the years from bi-weekly to quarterly to monthly in print and to online only beginning with the pandemic. It has covered a wide variety of social topics, among them cannabis. In fact, the Free Press launched Ohio’s very first marijuana ballot issue in 1997.
Frankly, there’s a lot to learn about the plant and its politics from Mary Jane’s 100 articles, which began in 2000 and continue to the present. One of her first articles, “Chemical Bigotry,” marked her entry into the drug policy reform movement, a field formed in reaction the increasingly draconian drug policies of the 1980s and 1990s. As the Free Press expanded print publication to weekly in the early 2010s, her article counts grew. Topics included mandatory minimum sentencing, the “Cole Memo,” the “Cannabis Vote,” opioids, GMO marijuana, HB523, hemp, banking, dosing, vape, research, 420, history, elections, legislation, home grow, to name just a few.
By early 2019, this body of knowledge had broadened sufficiently to serve as a movement-wide guide, hence the name Mary Jane’s Guide. In addition, she released several editions of “Facts & Stats” that analyzed and reported legislative and program data. Even more information can be found in her library here. Essentially, if there’s something you need to know about cannabis in Ohio – from its policies or to its opponents – Mary Jane has probably covered the topic.
In addition, beginning in 2017, Mary Jane began to include her original artwork in her articles. A gallery of the images can be seen in the “Best of Mary Jane’s Guide.” The list of all 100 articles is here.
The compelling question then becomes, out of the 100, which are the best or most relevant articles? Mary Jane has selected these 12:
TOP 12: BEST OF MARY JANE’S GUIDE
1.) Initiate This: Adult Use Comes to Ohio, published on 12/2/2022.
“Drum roll please … within approximately one month, cannabis will … or should … take center stage at the Ohio Statehouse.” This detailed overview of the Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol (RMLA) initiated statute – that Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose (R) recently forwarded to the Ohio General Assembly per a lawsuit settlement – covers the features, history, public opinion, and legislative landscape that may determine the measure’s passage or its referral to voters.
2.) Where in the world is Ohio S.B. 261?, published on 9/11/2022.
“Late last year, the upper chamber fast tracked its approval of Ohio Senate Bill 261 to improve the current medical marijuana program, sending the bill to the House where four hearings were held in the Spring. Nothing since.” This article also covers the features, history and talking points surrounding this legislation that will likely be reintroduced in 2023 with possible patient protections like fair housing and parental rights.
3.) Constructs for CHANGE and the CannaFacts that support them, published 8/9/2022.
“What are the most persuasive arguments for change and what facts support them? Here are ten constructs concerning cannabis – prevalence, history, opposition, racism, medicine, safety, penalties, enforcement, federalism, and freedom – that make the case.” Passage of the initiated statute and the program improvement bill along with federal legislation necessitates accurate statistics and relevant information, all of which can be found in this comprehensive list of cannafacts.
4.) Home Grow – 15 Reasons Why, published 3/1/2022.
“From banning a harmless plant, to unparalleled safety to comparable policies to more dangerous substances to affordability, therapy, injustice, freedom and, hey, get out of my castle, all of these factors illustrate why the personal cultivation of cannabis in Ohio – aka Home Grow – is a concept whose time has come to enact.” The RMLA initiated statute contains a provision that will allow 6 plants per individual and 12 plants per household.
5.) Oppo (Opposition Research), published 9/8/2021.
“Research on corporate or political opponents may enable activist groups to target neighborhoods from which to increase their numbers, to refine their focus or ‘target,’ to pinpoint the target’s vulnerabilities, to reveal hidden sources of funding or little-known connections, to investigate scare tactics, and to augment a legislative initiative.” It could be argued that Ohio’s legislative stall ball emanates from strong lobbying by opposition groups. This article identifies who they are and who funds them.
6.) War on Drugs – 50 Years, published 7/7/2021.
“Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.” That’s Richard Nixon’s aide John Erlichman speaking to a writer for Harper’s Magazine. Drugs and testing for them begat a convenient way to identify, criminalize, and curtail the political power of hippies [read liberals] and blacks that a bigoted Richard Nixon so detested. Since the advent of new century and the legalization of marijuana, psilocybin and other mind altering drugs, that drug war mentality has started to wane.
7.) Q & A about Breast Cancer, published 10/11/21.
“Fifty years ago, during the same time frame that former President Richard Nixon signed the Controlled Substances Act (CSA – 1970) and declared ‘War on Drugs’ (1971), he also proclaimed “War on Cancer” (1971). Arguably, none worked.” Over the last 50 years, the overall age-adjusted mortality for cancer has remained mostly flat. Promising cures have become little more than rosy hype, and many run counter to the ancient physician adage, ‘First do no harm. The CSA blocked promising options like cannabis, while the drug war demonized those options, scaring the public. Five decades later, large numbers of patients still suffer and die, while the industry designed to serve them grows even corpulent, deceptive and detached.
8.) Cannabis on Probation, published 8/23/2020.
“There’s a story here, one that winds through small town America, Halloween, a drug bust, qualifying medical conditions, hostile prosecution, an arduous three years, a half million dollars and justice for patients in the end.” This bust in small town Ohio found a couple facing 45 years in prison and $75,000 in fines even though they were registered patients with Ohio’s medical marijuana program. The case continued over two years, but in the end, a plea deal resulted in probation with no fine or time and permission from the judge to continue using cannabis as medicine, something unheard of during the dark ages. Update: Glenn’s and Peggy Sue’s probation ended … three years early.
9.) Huntington Bank does NOT welcome Cannabis Cash, published 1/2/2019.
“Huntington National Bank (“HNB”) maintains a policy that prohibits banking customers that hold a license to distribute marijuana in a state (direct marijuana business), and that same policy prohibits HNB from banking customer [sic] who provide support to direct marijuana business (indirect marijuana business).” In their own words. If you are even tangential to the cannabis space, Huntington will consider you “radioactive” and close your account. This article reveals the details behind these forceclosures. The main fault lies with Congress that, to this very day, seems unable to pass the Safe Banking Act.
10.) Remember the Rainbow Farm, published 10/3/2017.
“Let that sink in. Exactly one week before the worst terrorist attack ever on US soil , 50 FBI agents placed the Rainbow Farm in rural Michigan under siege, killing two marijuana aficionados, while instead these same agents could have been unraveling a plot to kill thousands and obliterate skyscrapers in major cities.” Sad, but true. During the early 2000s, the feds were so “anti-drug” obsessed that they ignored an existential threat to focus instead on two hippie owners of a modern day Woodstock. That’s a 911 death toll of 2,979 including the two Rainbow Farm proprietors.
11.) Opiate Laced Marijuana? – A Lesson in “Fake News”, published 3/2/2017.
“The ‘alternative facts’ heard ‘round the world warned that marijuana in Lake County, Ohio was laced with heroin or fentanyl.” This old wives tale has been regurgitated time and again. In fact, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost exhumed it five years later as reported in the Mary Jane’s Guide for 5/13/2022: “Let’s be clear: MARIJUANA IS NOT and CANNOT BE LACED WITH FENTANYL (or its analogs)!! Credible sources agree, like WebMD, the DEA, Snopes (rated the claim ‘False’), Harm Reduction Ohio, Filter Mag (excellent overview of the technicalities), Reason, and Forbes.”
12.) Chemical Bigotry, published 4/10/2002.
“What is chemical bigotry? It is the application of obstinate opinions, prejudices, and intolerance to those whose chemical profile appears one way versus those whose chemical profile appears another way. Essentially, drug testing is this chemical profile made physical.” This article kicked off Mary Jane’s 20+ career in cannabis reform. And the premise remains true to this day. Drug testing still entraps medical marijuana patients in its deceitful web. It forms a core part of the stigma that still colors cannabis, but it does motivate the drug policy reform movement.
Cannabis and the Midterms, published 10/17/2022.
Reviews the ins and outs of Ohio’s 2022 midterm election including the power of the “marijuana vote” and a voter guide of legislative supporters.
Happy 420!! Ohio Lobby Day. Plant Peace & Love, published 4/18/22.
History, facts, stats, and events for this annual cannabis holiday, including the 2022 Lobby Day for Ohio activists. Like other 420 articles, this piece features a colorful graphic.
Right, Moral & Good (2021), published 2/3/2021.
This piece gave visual context of a three-legged stool to the ethical principles of Right, Moral and Good, illustrating that the metaphoric stool collapses when one principle becomes compromised.
Research, how much is enough?, published 3/7/2020.
Opponents often decry a lack of cannabis research even though numerous obstacles prevent scientific enquiry into one of humanity’s most consumed plants.
Strains: How to shop at dispensaries, published 2/7/2020.
At the time of this writing, Ohio’s medical marijuana program was barely one year old. For the novice, there was (and still is) a lot to learn about dispensaries.
Vape This, published 10/2/2019.
Follow-up research found that most vape-related illnesses were confined to illicit products, not those sold in legal dispensaries.
Hemp is Happening, published 9/6/2018.
The landmark “Hemp Farming Act of 2018,” that legalized hemp based on 0.3% THC content, passed the U.S. Congress and ultimately the Ohio General Assembly.
Your Endocannabinoid System: Proof that Marijuana is Medicine, published 4/3/2018.
Common to all mammals, this bodily a system demands to be better understood since it governs a number of essential functions and imbues homeostasis, harmony and stability.
Please see the “best of” these articles in the milestone retrospective here.
None of these articles or their influence over public policy would have been possible without the long standing support of Bob, Suzanne, and the other good folks at the Columbus Free Press, who have kept the organization going through thick and thin over the last 50 – yes, 50! – years.
A project of the 501(c)(3) Columbus Institute for Contemporary Journalism (CICJ), the Columbus Free Press has become Ohio’s bastion of progressive news and commentary. As noted in its Mission Statement, this all-volunteer-run organization “delivers complete, accurate, and timely coverage of social and political news to the citizens of Greater Columbus, Ohio.” It also serves “as a guardian of the public interest; and as an advocate for peace and justice in a society where all people have the opportunity to achieve their full potential.” The printed publication (discontinued by the pandemic in 2020) output 15,000 papers to 450 sites each month. Today, that content is displayed on the Free Press website – always free of charge – with topics ranging from statehouse news to movie reviews to dining suggestions to action alerts and so much more. Cannabis policy has always been a timely topic. Tax deductible contributions can be made here.
Even though 100 articles over 20 years represents a significant milestone, more work must be done to finally free this ancient plant and unleash its full potential. The Columbus Free Press has been instrumental in rendering change. Its work will remain essential to cannabis’ medical and social evolution – now more than ever!
Editor’s note: MedicateOH thanks the Columbus Free Press for allowing us to republish Mary Jane Borden’s articles to reach a wider audience.