Tanya Davis of Kettering catches up with friend and fellow medical marijuana activist Cheryl Shuman before a panel discussion at the University of Toledo. Events today include an expo at Headliners.
THE BLADE/ANDY MORRISON
Old Spice cologne once reminded many people of their grandfather. Now, thanks to former NFL player Isaiah Mustafa and a series of humorous television commercials, it probably brings to mind a guy on a horse with great abs.
The advertising industry calls this successful rebranding and that’s what backers of a campaign to legalize medical marijuana in Ohio are banking on to change the attitude of Ohio voters.
The Ohio Rights Group is in the midst of a petition drive to collect nearly 400,000 valid signatures to place the Ohio Cannabis Rights Amendment on the ballot in 2014.
Volunteers across the state have collected about 35,000 signatures so far, said Mary Smith, spokesman for the Northwest Ohio/Toledo chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, or NORML.
“Over half of those signatures have been collected here in Northwest Ohio,” Ms. Smith said.
If approved, the amendment would change the Ohio Constitution to legalize, license, and regulate the production and use of marijuana for medical or therapeutic purposes, and hemp for industrial purposes.
Toledo is the first stop on a statewide publicity tour to stress the positive benefits of medical marijuana and hemp.
The Ohio Rights Group and NORML are two of the sponsors of events that began Friday and will end with a Medical Marijuana Expo today at 7 p.m. at Headliners concert hall, 4500 N. Detroit St.
Most of the events are free but there is a $5 charge to attend the expo. It will feature several bands and speakers, including Cheryl Shuman, a nationally recognized advocate for medical marijuana reform. The Ohio native’s battle with cancer and use of cannabis treatments earned a lot of publicity and she became an advocate for the medical marijuana reform movement.
Ms. Shuman calls herself the “Martha Stewart of marijuana.” She is a frequent guest on CNN and Fox News, publishes a monthly cannabis lifestyle magazine, Kush, and has developed her own line of hemp-based products.
She thinks support for the ballot initiative will increase if Ohio voters hear more stories from people such as her, a 57-year-old mom with two children.
“The stereotypical image of the marijuana user is the ‘stoner’,” Ms. Shuman said. People don’t realize the drug has therapeutic forms that don’t produce the psychoactive sensation, commonly known as getting “stoned,” she said.
Although neighboring Michigan and 19 other states already have approved the use of medical marijuana, Ohio voters have rejected two previous attempts to place the legalization issue on the ballot.
John Pardee, president of the Ohio Rights group, believes the state is at a tipping point. He cited a Saperstein Associates poll of more than 1,000 Ohioans conducted for the Columbus Dispatch newspaper in March that found 63 percent favored legalizing marijuana for medical use with 35 percent opposed.
Contact Marlene Harris-Taylor at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6091.