MANSFIELD — Although heroin and prescription opiate abuse was the main topic, there was also timely discussion of marijuana at the Drug Abuse Forum held Friday at the Richland County Public Library’s Ontario Branch. Two states have defied federal law and legalized recreational use of marijuana, while 20 allow its use for medical purposes. If the tone of Friday’s forum is indicative of Ohio public opinion, however, marijuana legalization is nowhere on the state’s horizon.
Although Barack Obama wasn’t mentioned by name, recent comments by the president in a New Yorker interview were clearly on the minds of many. Obama has not called for decriminalization of marijuana and said he views it as a bad habit, but acknowledges that enforcement of marijuana laws is not a high priority of his administration. When asked directly about legalization of marijuana, none of Friday’s expert speakers expressed support. Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and Richland County Juvenile Court Judge Rodney Spon, in particular, offered pointed criticism of any move to relax marijuana possession laws.
“The justice department has basically refused to enforce federal law,” DeWine said, “and that absolutely sends the wrong message to our children. When kids hear the words ‘Legal for adults,’ they think it’s OK for them, too.”
“It angers me when high-ranking officials say it’s not a big deal to use marijuana,” Judge Spon commented. “That does a tremendous disservice to our children.”
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