The state is hoping to battle drug abuse among Ohio kids with a four-part program that encourages adults to talk to middle and high school students about drugs.
And a key figure in the Kasich administration says the legalization of marijuana creates a problem for the message the Start Talking! Program is trying to send.
Tracy Plouck is the director of the state’s Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, and she’s also concerned about the efforts to put a medical marijuana issue before voters.
”I feel very strongly that marijuana is a gateway drug," Plouck said. "And I think that legalizing its use, for any purpose, is a huge problem as far as sending messages to our young people and our workforce. I think it complicates drug-free workforce circumstances and also we don’t condone smoking."
Twenty states have legalized marijuana for medical purposes, and two of them – Colorado and Washington – have made recreational pot use legal as well. While polls show most Ohioans favor the legalization of medical marijuana, bills that would do that have stalled in the legislature in recent years. But backers are gathering signatures to put it on the ballot as soon as this year.