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The final year for using medical marijuana illegally on 420 could be 2016 as two groups are seeking to put a medical marijuana amendment on this November’s ballot. Parallel to these 420 activists are Ohio lawmakers who introduced a medical marijuana bill a week before April 20th.

State lawmakers plan on fast-tracking the bill (House Bill 523) to Gov. John Kasich before any November ballot, and they said if it passes this summer, Ohioans could be using medical marijuana by 2018.

The two groups seeking a citizen vote on medical marijuana – Ohioans for Medical Marijuana and Grassroots Ohio – will most likely stay the course, as they have said they don’t have confidence in the Republican-dominated Ohio Legislature passing an effective law. Thus Ohio could have competing medical marijuana measures on this fall’s ballot.

Like Issue 3, which was soundly defeated by Ohio voters last year, the drive to legalize medical marijuana is drawing battle lines amongst state marijuana activists. And as civil war foments once again, politicians are trying to muscle out the activists, a move seen as pretentious and even self-serving. House Bill 523 gives state government control over how the medical marijuana is grown, dispensed and regulated.

On the outside of this emerging rumble are thousands of Ohioans who risk jobs and reputations by using medical marijuana illegally. Such as military veterans who served in Afghanistan and Iraq, and now suffering from PTSD.

Rocky Mesarosh, the Ohio chapter president for the Weed for Warriors Project, would like to see both the citizen’s amendments and state law go forward. He told the Free Press “any and all legislation or amendments for medical marijuana is a good thing.”

But he has concerns over House Bill 523, which makes it illegal for medicinal users to grow their own.

“That’s why the citizens initiatives need to continue,” he said. “Home grown can provide those who cannot afford to pay out of pocket, and help those in rural areas who don’t have ease of access.”

Even if the future for medicinal and recreational looks promising, this year’s 420 will once again be shadowed by the paranoia of getting arrested and ticketed, which could affect someone for the rest of their life. A minor misdemeanor marijuana possession charge for instance can result in expulsion from college and loss of your ability to receive federal student grants or loans.

But users can help end the war on marijuana by becoming advocates on 420 and also supporting those establishments not afraid to publicly admit they cater to users. The Free Press has two events in mind for this April 20th.

  • With over three decades fighting for legalization, what’s a 420 without NORML? Especially when you can spend 420 lobbying with NORML at the Ohio Statehouse. Ohio NORML is asking for any interested users to meet at The Statehouse at 9 am for Ohio NORML Lobby Day 2016. They are asking beforehand you call and set up an appointment with both your State Senator and State Representative so you can spend a few minutes face-to-face with the state lawmakers who represent you.
  • A Free Press advertising salesman once tried to sell an ad to a local hydroponics store but after speaking of “420” (gasp!) was asked to leave. After this, a hidden police cruiser tailed the salesman out of the parking lot. There is a store in Central Ohio, however, that actually encourages you to talk 420 growing tips with the management. Hydro Innovations is located in Hilliard and owner Kelley Mottola says Hydro Innovations doesn’t beat around the bush (wink, wink!) when it comes to 420. She said 80 percent of their customers grow marijuana, something they are very proud of. “We won’t kick you out of the store if you talk about marijuana,” said Mottola. On 420, Hydro Innovations is hosting an event in the store and in their parking lot. The Blitz 99.7 radio personalities will be there along with a Rock on the Range tour bus giving away tickets to the three day concert in May. The first 25 people thru the door get free HEMP20 water.