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Ohio Billionaire Seeks Medical Marijuana Vote

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #682)
Drug War Issues

Cleveland-based billionaire Peter Lewis, the chairman of Progressive Insurance, wants Ohioans to vote on becoming a medical marijuana state. Through his attorney, he has put out a request for proposals for an Ohio medical marijuana initiative that will "create a model for future campaigns in other states."

Could Ohio be next? Peter Lewis would like to make it happen. (Image via
Lewis has given millions of dollars to drug reform campaigns across the country, including $900,000 last year to the Marijuana Policy Project and another $200,000 for Proposition 19 in California. Now, his drug reform funding is channeled through his attorney, Graham Boyd of the ACLU Drug Law Reform Project.

Ohio "stands out as having particularly high levels of voter support," the request said. It seeks proposals that include drafting ballot language, qualifying for the ballot, building a campaign organization, communicating with voters, and raising money -- although it is probably safe to assume Lewis would kick in a substantial sum himself.

But it's not a done deal yet. "You shouldn't take it as a given that there will be a ballot initiative this campaign," said Boyd told Forbes on Tuesday. "But we want to see proposals."

Lewis's interest in marijuana reform is personal. He was arrested for pot and hash possession in New Zealand in 2000, but got the charges dropped by making a generous donation to a local drug treatment center.

Fifteen states and the District of Columbia have legalized the use of marijuana for medical purposes, but only one of them, Michigan, is in the Midwest. In Michigan, it won through a voter initiative; if someone is on the ball in the Buckeye State, Ohio could be next.

Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.


It is interesting that Lewis is not going through MPP on this one. Is this because of political disagreements or because of Rob Kampia's personal actions? #Whatever the case I hope that the bill includes dispensaries, regulation of those dispensaries and a way of all patients to get medical marijuana. I am sick and tired of those bills which specify conditions and CUT OUT legitimate patients who do not have the "right disease" because they think they need to cut people out to get right wing support. I myself have hypertension and several Medical marijuana states do not include that condition as a qualifying condition. In those states I  am just as much denied my medicine as I am denied my medicine in non-medical marijuana states. What we need is a bill just like prop. 215 in California with the exception that the dispensaries should be run as for profit companies not non-profits.

Wed, 05/04/2011 - 11:27am Permalink
Anon9 (not verified)

It's 2011 and I can't believe that we are still playing this song and dance.  If I don't need a doctor's recommendation to obtain alcohol (which certainly has medicinal value, according to research studies) why should I need it for marijuana, a safer substance. 

Thu, 05/05/2011 - 1:34am Permalink
Jeff Brown (not verified)

There should be something in the initiative that forces the state to protect its users  from the federal government. Upon passage of the initiative the state should be required to tell the DEA that marijuana has medical use in the United States and that the DEA needs to reschedule. Ohio will make  16 states and DC and therefor does not meet the federal schedule I criteria of no medical use in the United States. Once the feds reschedule it will make actual studies on marijuana for medical use much easier and all the states that follow federal rescheduling will be forced to reschedule also.

Thu, 05/05/2011 - 5:57pm Permalink
Anon9 (not verified)

In reply to by Jeff Brown (not verified)

Why should we compromise on the reality of this plant and treat at as a substance that deserves any more special government treatment than alcohol or aspirin?  If you support rescheduling, that means you believe it should be scheduled, thereby justifying the federal crackdowns on patients.  There have been enough studies - 20,000 of them.  Marijuana is most studied plant on earth, so what more do we need to know?

Thu, 05/05/2011 - 7:36pm Permalink

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