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Hagan introduces two marijuana legalization bills

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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio - Could lighting up a marijuana joint in Ohio be legal? State Representative Bob Hagan says he hopes so.

He made two proposals surrounding marijuana. The first would allow people with chronic illnesses to possess or cultivate the drug, provided they receive certification from their doctor and register with the Ohio Department of Health.

"I've watched a lot of people come through my office suffering with maladies that regular prescriptions just didn't help. They asked me to do it, I said fine. It's the second time I've introduced it and it flies in the face of the pharmaceutical industry, but those who asked me to do it really need it because they've tried everything else," Hagan said.

The second, and probably more controversial proposal, is a constitutional amendment that would let voters decide if marijuana should be fully legalized in the state.

Under the law, sale of the drug would be restricted to adults 21-years-old and over, and would be taxed in a manner similar to alcohol.

"I don't want to be the state that falls behind. They are charging a 15% excise tax on it, they are making money on it. We could be making money to hire more police and fire, pull up our education system, put more money toward local government funding or take care of those hooked on more serious drugs," Hagan said.

Hagan says the war on drugs has failed and we're spending too much money fighting people who smoke pot.

He says that money would be better used to fight more violent drug offenders like those who push heroin or crack cocaine.

Some local police officials agree. Columbiana Police Chief Tim Gladis said, "Frankly, there's bigger fish to fry at this time."

But what if pot was legal? Gladis says it would be treated the same as a DUI but it might be harder to test for.

"I think that if more people use it, certainly they may drive impaired but we hope our educational efforts against driving impaired across the board work better than that but one never knows," Gladis said.

Hagan hopes he'll get more lawmakers on board so he can put the legalization effort on the ballot.

 

 

 

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