As all of us hurl ourselves further into the vortex of what is and what isn’t true on the internet in the wake of the 2020 election, it behooves us to think like a journalist.
When network tv personalities’ voices produce more opinions, scare tactics, and sensationalism than facts, it can be hard to know what’s true and what isn’t. And when it comes to your health, that can be downright frightening. Luckily, there are still those with boots on the ground searching for the truth in a world full of facades.
When we look at the specific election issue of cannabis legalization, a journalist might be asked to chase such a story: Record and convey the messages of people who are “pro-marijuana” and weigh that against the messages of people who are “anti-marijuana.”
But, a good journalist knows that only the foolish stop at duality. Beyond the pros and antis, we’ll find the truth: there are actually multiple sides and many moving parts to the issue of marijuana legalization. This is true on both state and national levels, and where you fall depends on the details.
What does “pro-marijuana” mean?
Short answer: It depends on who you ask.
Long answer: There are key groups within the “pro-marijuana” movement, both locally and nationally.
Who is “pro-marijuana”?
It resonates with some people that all forms of cannabis — including THC-derived plant matter — is safe for human consumption, in any form by any person at any time, as science has deemed in multiple studies.
On a state level, interested parties in these groups lobby for medicinal and recreational cannabis users to grow anywhere — indoors or outdoors.
Home-grow options for Ohio?
One of the main concerns for those who support looser restrictions on marijuana is the matter of growing the plant in your home.
Many medical doctors who support Ohio’s medical marijuana program, including Steven Davis of Advocare Clinics, indicate that proper dosing is critical especially with cancer patients who could potentially be exposed to mold or pesticides. Therefore, the Ohio medical marijuana program built in strict processing and testing for cultivators to better assure safety. The program is administered through the Board of Pharmacy, does rigorous third-party testing, and only sells marijuana from licensed dispensaries.Further, the state’s program excluded the option for patients to grow their own cannabis medicine at home.
Still, many Ohioans argue that allowing patients to grow at home will better allow them to control the specific strains and dosages they take, as well as to be more cost-effective than the state’s program, which can price out the poor and elderly (who need it the most.)
Ohio’s current stance on home-grow
Currently, it is illegal to grow any marijuana plant in your home in Ohio, but an Ohio petition is circulating to amend the program for anyone to grow up to 6 plants at a time in their home. According to the Columbus Dispatch, supporters of the petition need an initial 1,000 signatures to qualify for the November ballot. The measure asks that the Department of Commerce be responsible for regulating the marijuana market and issuing licenses for cannabis businesses.
Pure Ohio Wellness, a cultivator and dispensary operator in Springfield and Dayton, and Galenas, a small-scale grower in Akron, are backing the measure. The Ohio Medical Cannabis Industry Association (OMCIA,) which represents 14 Ohio cultivators is not supporting the measure.
“We’re focused on the medical program and at this time are not backing a recreational initiative,” associate director Thomas Rosenberger told the Columbus Dispatch last week.
In addition to home grow, Legalize Ohio and other groups seek to petition for the additional allowance of recreational marijuana sales for non medical patients, just as neighboring states Illinois and Michigan recently did, with varying results.
While recreational sales have caused massive sales booms in Illinois, Michigan patients have complained of shortages which can affect very ill patients who are sometimes using medical cannabis for end-of-life care. So despite the laxer laws, policymakers and advocates still have a huge fight with the state with regards to supplying cannabis to medical patients before those who want to use it recreationally.
Hemp’s hand in complicating matters
Another issue surrounding legalization, both in Ohio and nationally, includes the accidental cross-pollination of hemp, which has no THC, and is grown outdoors.
If users are allowed to grow marijuana near a hemp plant, it can cause all of it to become THC-laden marijuana (which is lovely if that’s what you want). But for those trying to produce non-psychoactive inducing CBD from the cannabis plants you’re farming, you’d struggle to keep the THC levels down.
According to Medical Jane, very few Americans actually still fall in the category of “anti-marijuana” (that we have outlawed the cannabis plant because we federally decided it has no medical value.)
While a whopping 89 percent of Americans support medical marijuana, social stigma, scant research, and lack of local cannabis education sources continue to lead to lack of empathy in compassionate care in the medical community. Outside of “pro-marijuana” and “anti-marijuana” groups is where most of us fall in our opinions on marijuana legalization.
New research comes out daily, producing evidence that marijuana can be helpful as a medical remedy to many conditions, potentially help opiate addicts recover, and pave a path for chronic pain patients to return to work and be productive to society once again.
These are life-changing steps for independence and they happen every single day when an Ohio patient steps into a dispensary, gets proper counseling and starts to see how medical marijuana can be a tool for healing.
Many of us are starting to see the science and weigh our health decisions differently in this new era, balancing new evidence, old habits, and making the best decisions we can based on what other smart people know.
The Bottom Line
We are all journalists of our own health: do plenty of research and then learn more from local, trusted sources. Weigh all the evidence of the experts, anecdotal evidence, opinions, and keep looking for the answers. Think like a journalist and you’ll find the truth.
Medicate OH’s Founder and Publisher Gabrielle Dion Visca is a native of Cincinnati, Ohio and holds an undergraduate degree in journalism and a master’s degree in public administration, both from Northern Kentucky University. She has more than 20 years of experience writing and editing professionally for the medical and wellness industries, including holding positions with The Journal of Pediatrics, Livestrong.com, Cincinnati.com, and Patient Pop.