New Poll Shows Close Races In Ohio This Fall, And The House Passes Medical Marijuana

The first major poll of Ohio voters released since Gov. John Kasich and Ted Cruz dropped out of the presidential race last week shows the race may be very close here. And the Quinnipiac poll also shows a close contest in the US Senate race in Ohio. But 90% said they back medical marijuana. And more than half say they support allowing adults to possess small amounts of pot for personal use. Planned Parenthood is taking the state to court over a law signed in February that stripped $1.4 million in government funding for cancer screenings, HIV tests and more. Five of Ohio's public universities have joined the state and hundreds of local governments in putting their spending information on the state treasurer’s online checkbook.

The sponsor of a controversial bill that aims to protect clergy who oppose same-sex marriage from lawsuits says it’s being blocked from coming to the House floor, where he’s certain it would pass.  Republican Rep. Nino Vitale of Urbana is urging conservative clergymembers to lobby lawmakers to bring this bill up for a vote. But critics such as Lisa Wurm with the American Civil Liberties Union says federal law already protects clergy from being forced to perform ceremonies they don’t want to, and that no pastors have been sued for refusing to perform ceremonies for same-sex couples.  And Speaker Cliff Rosenberger says he’s concerned the bill could cause more problems than it would solve.

After more than twenty years of starts and stops, the House has overwhelmingly approved a historic bill that would allow regulated medical marijuana in Ohio. Sponsoring Republican Rep. Steve Huffman (R-Tipp City) spoke for the bill, which sets up a commission that will oversee the regulation, licensing and distribution of medical marijuana and sets strict rules for doctors who choose to recommend it for their patients. Others speaking on the bill include Reps. Kirk Schuring (R-Canton), Alicia Reece (D-Cincinnati), Ron Young (R-Lake County) and Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo). But Aaron Marshall with the Marijuana Policy Project, which has a proposal for this fall's ballot to more broadly legalize marijuana, including allowing smoking and home-growing of the plant, says this House passed bill will do little for patients in Ohio.

One lawmaker who worked for the better part of two decades to get this issue before his fellow lawmakers was watching this bill with interest – from afar. Bob Hagan of Youngstown said he was cautiously cheered to see – and hear – this bill pass and the debate surrounding it.

On to a different kind of drug – opioids, and the epidemic surrounding them in Ohio. There’s a proposal that would require thousands of pharmacy technicians to be registered by the state. Ohio is one of only eight states that don’t require pharmacy technicians to be licensed.  And the group that represents pharmacists at the Statehouse says it’s on board. Ernie Boyd is the executive director of the Ohio Pharmacists Association.

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