Butler County residents react to Ohio pot poll

Ohio voters support medical marijuana by a wide margin, but just barely of a majority like the idea of legalizing pot for recreational use, according to a new poll released Monday by Quinnipiac University.

Pollsters found 84 percent say yes to medical marijuana while 52 percent approve of adults being allowed to possess small amounts for personal use. Meanwhile, 84 percent of voters say they probably or definitely would not personally use marijuana.

Local residents say the poll accurately reflects Ohioans’ sensibilities.

“We should be allowed to have a small use of marijuana,” said Ondrea McCarty of Hamilton. “It’s better than people out here using needles, and doing meth or heroin.”

Three issues involving medical marijuana legalization have been approved by the Ohio Secretary of State and Ohio Attorney General’s Office and are working on signatures to get onto the ballot, along with one more issue that would allow 10 grow sites for medical and recreational marijuana, including one in Middletown.

Marijuana is now legal in five states nationwide and Washington, D.C., and medical marijuana use is legal in 23 states.

“If other states are trending toward it, why not Ohio?” said Jay Biddle of Hamilton. “I don’t use it myself and even if they legalized it, I wouldn’t use it. I’ve never used it, but it’s a free society. It’s trending that way, so why not jump on board?”

Biddle said he is for legalizing in Ohio because it’s been a recreational drug for a while and “cops seem to turn the other cheek whenever they see it or people have it.”

However, Melissa Kolling of Trenton, said she was against having an adult being allowed to possess a small amount for personal use.

“I feel like it’s a gateway drug a lot of times,” she said. “I grew up always saying ‘no’ to drugs.”

Kolling said she might have some flexibility when it comes to medical marijuana “if that is the only way that a physician (feels) like it would help a patient out.”

Donnie Crow of Middletown said he had no problem with marijuana for medicinal or recreational use in minimal amounts, but “on the other hand it can be abused, like anything else.”

“I won’t judge anybody that does anymore than I do, those who are strongly against it,” he said.

While he wouldn’t vote for legalizing medicinal marijuana, Crow also said he wouldn’t fight against it.

“I was a drunk and a drug addict for 40 years before I became a preacher and people are entitled to make their own choices,” he said.

Barbara Vandecreek of Beavercreek said she is for both medical marijuana and allowing adults to possess small amounts for personal use.

“It would bring in some taxes and I think it has the potential for less arrests, depending on how (the law) was written,” she said. “It doesn’t mean I would go and buy it or use it. I would not encourage people to use it, but I don’t know if it’s something that needs to be criminal.”

State lawmakers, include Ohio Rep. Wes Retherford, R-Hamilton, are behind a proposed bill that would allow cannabidiol oils, which are found in marijuana, to be used by some Ohio hospitals to develop treatments for seizures.

Chris Parsons of Hamilton, said allowing marijuana for both recreational and medicinal use makes perfect sense.

“I struggle with depression and I just lost my mom, too, so that made it a lot worse,” Parsons said. “It (marijuana) did take away some of the stress … just don’t depend on it. I think the whole world needs to light one up every now and again.”

Parsons said poll numbers are evidence of a shift in the way Ohioans think.

“You’ve got people overdosing on heroin. You’ve got people strung out on crack,” he said, “It’s better to relax (because of marijuana) than to put your chin on your chest (because of other drugs) and nod out.”

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