Ohio lawmakers may consider marijuana issue - 21 News Now, More Local News for Youngstown, Ohio -

Ohio lawmakers may consider marijuana issue

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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio - On Tuesday, Colorado and Washington became the first states to legalize marijuana for recreational use.

Now a Valley lawmaker will make a third attempt at legalizing marijuana in Ohio for medicinal purposes only.

State Representative Bob Hagan does not support using marijuana for recreational purposes, although he does intend to introduce legislation in January hoping to legalize the drug for medicinal use.

Representative Hagan says, "I watched both my parents die on morphine and it is not very comforting. If my mother or my father had asked me for marijuana, regardless of whether it was legal, I would have tried to find it for my parents. I would ask anybody anywhere if they wouldn't do the same thing if they were suffering and watching their parents die."

Admitting it may be difficult to pass the proposal in this legislature, Hagan says he still wants to try and thinks it would be critical to have public hearings on the issue.

Hagan says previous studies have shown that about 70-percent of Ohioans approve of the medical legalization of marijuana.

"Again, its medical use only, prescribed by a doctor," Hagan said.

But Youngstown Police Officer Bob Patton, a narcotics investigator with the Drug Task Force who has 20 years of experience in drug investigations, says he's interviewed hundreds of addicts and many say their substance abuse problems began with smoking marijuana.

"Marijuana has been a gateway or a pathway drug that enabled them to elevate to a different drug. Whether it was cocaine or heroin, which is the big thing now. But certainly that was the drug that got them across the pond to try something else," Patton said.

And with drug addiction the Mahoning Valley and other communities have experienced an increase in crime, including home invasions, as drug abusers steal to support their habits Patton said.

"There's a whole gamut of things that come with the social norm being changed to accept marijuana," Patton said.

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