COLUMBUS, Ohio – The movement to legalize medical marijuana in Ohio has been reignited.
Peter B. Lewis — the billionaire chairman of Progressive Corp. and well-known medical marijuana advocate — is seeking proposals to run a campaign to legalize medical marijuana in Ohio. The issue would go on the ballot in 2012.
“We want to see what kind of proposals that come in and we’ll proceed from there,” said Graham Boyd, the former director of the ACLU Drug Law Reform Project and an advisor to Lewis.
While Democratic lawmakers have tried and failed in recent years to pass medical a marijuana law in Ohio, Lewis’ latest inquiry represents a different tack.
By going directly to voters through a ballot initiative, Lewis and his supporters could circumvent a GOP-controlled legislature and a Republican governor who likely would oppose such a law.
“Obviously with his backing, and more importantly his dollars, that’s the only way getting passage of this bill is going to happen in the state of Ohio,” said Rep. Kenny Yuko, a Democrat from Richmond Heights who has introduced bills to legalize medical marijuana.
Lewis, whose company is based in Mayfield Village, is among the most wealthy, high-profile supporters of medical marijuana legalization. Allen St. Pierre, executive director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, estimates that Lewis has contributed between $40 million and $60 million to the cause since the 1980s.
“No person on the face of this Earth has donated more money to reform marijuana laws than Peter B. Lewis,” St. Pierre said.
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